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UN drive to save millions of Arab children from malnutrition

August 30, 2023 at 3:46 pm

Children suffering from malnutrition are being treated with limited facilities at Al Sabeen Maternal Hospital in Sanaa, Yemen on May 29, 2023 [Mohammed Hamoud/Anadolu Agency]

Four UN agencies have launched an initiative to address malnutrition in the Middle East and North Africa region in light of the high prevalence of stunting among children in six countries in the region.

A joint statement issued by the regional offices of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO),  the International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) referred to the positive steps taken since 1990 and the decrease in the prevalence of chronic undernourishment from 19.1 per cent in 2012 to 15.3 per cent last year.

However, the four agencies emphasised that challenges still exist in the region. They also said that emaciation, the most fatal form of malnutrition, has been a major problem in several countries.

The average emaciation rate of more than six per cent in the region masks alarming levels of more than 15 per cent in some countries, according to the statement. On the other hand, the agencies reported that the number of overweight and obese children under the age of five has remained stable at five million over the past decade.

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