Nearly 4 mln Afghan children, women will suffer from malnutrition in 2024

KABUL (SW) – The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that almost 4 million children and women in Afghanistan will suffer from severe malnutrition in 2024.

Rogers Wanyama, WFP Nutrition Officer in Afghanistan, draws attention to the urgency of the situation, stating, “Afghanistan nutrition cluster estimates that almost four million women and children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2024.”

According to WFP, malnutrition is a significant factor in nutrition-related deaths among children under five, tripling the risk of death for those with moderate acute malnutrition compared to well-nourished kids. It also significantly increases the likelihood of complications during childbirth for pregnant women.

Abdul Khaliq Karimi — a child specialist who works in a WFP supported clinic, paints a broader picture of the crisis, noting that nearly 40 percent of the district’s pregnant and breastfeeding mothers need help for malnutrition. For children under five, the situation is even grimmer — 45 percent face malnutrition, with 30 percent enduring severe forms.

Mr. Karimi explains, “Every day, we meticulously screen and treat all pregnant and breastfeeding mothers aged 15 to 49, along with their children aged 6 to 59 months following relevant criteria. Punjab District Hospital] in Bamyan[ in collaboration with the relevant institutions, especially the World Food Programme, is providing services to patients with moderate and severe malnutrition. Impressively, we’ve achieved a success rate is over 80 percent. However, the root cause of the issue is that most families in Panjab district cannot afford to eat nutritious food, leading to widespread malnutrition.”

On Saturday, WFP shared a report, saying that with AHF’s support, this programme has been able to procure, and store specialized nutritious foods for over 31,000 children and assist more than 13,500 acutely malnourished pregnant and breastfeeding mothers for six months.

However, the report adds that by February 2024, WFP’s nutrition programme anticipates a critical shortage of super cereal, a soya-wheat blend for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

“Due to funding shortages, WFP is now only able to provide 7 million people with emergency food and nutrition assistance when 16 million people are going hungry. Urgent funding is needed to maintain emergency assistance at the levels required to support the most vulnerable communities,” the report added.