UNICEF and WHO have published the new estimates for infant malnutrition
The report examines the different aspects of malnutrition: stunting (a child too short for its age), wasting (a child too skinny for its height), overweight.
The number of children afflicted with stunting is decreasing all over the world and it currently amounts to 159 million. Asia is the continent that has seen a more rapid decline in stunting cases (a 47% decrease between 1990 and 2014), while the decline in Africa is slower (24%).
The children afflicted with wasting, or acute malnutrition, the most dangerous condition, are instead 50 million. In particular Africa has wasting levels far too high (above 5%), along with a large portion of southern Asia.
The number of overweight children in low and middle-income countries has doubled between 1990-2014, rising from 7.5 million to 15.5 million.
Therefore it emerges from the report how, next to the persistence of areas afflicted with malnutrition by defect in many countries, another problem is emerging; the excess of nutrition. Many countries find themselves tackling the two challenges simultaneously: there are children with severe malnutrition, so much as to contribute significantly to infant mortality and, in the wealthier classes of the population, overweight or obese children. It is a new challenge for the low and middle-income countries, and it is therefore urgent to enhance the nutritional education programs with new topics.
The DREAM 2.0 Program of the Community of Sant’Egidio, besides managing 3 nutritional centers for children aged 2 to 14 in Malawi and in Mozambique, has been since the beginning carrying out an educative action for the prevention of infant malnutrition, especially with mothers. The challenge considering these numbers is today much more demanding, and we are called to promote a healthy and correct nutrition on all levels, with a regard towards the evolution of the challenge of infant malnutrition.
There is urgency to act, especially considering the UN’s commitment towards the “zero hunger” objective within 2030 and to create synergies with governments and international agencies to carry out immediate actions that change the life of many african children.