Severe acute child malnutrition will double this year compared to last.
Severe acute child malnutrition is expected to double further this year in Haiti as the country struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, a peak of violence, and declining resources, according to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
More than 86,000 children under the age of 5 could be affected, compared to 41,000 reported last year, according to Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Severe acute malnutrition is considered a life-threatening condition. In a slightly less dangerous category, acute malnutrition in children under 5 in Haiti has increased by 61%, with some 217,000 children expected to suffer this year, compared to 134,000 last year.
“It saddened me to see so many children suffering from malnutrition,” Gough said after a week-long visit to Haiti. “Some will not recover if they do not receive treatment on time.”
Overall, according to UNICEF, approximately 4.4 million of Haiti’s more than 11 million people do not have enough food, including 1.9 million children.
Gough told The Associated Press during a recent visit to a hospital in the southern city of Les Cayes that UNICEF only has one month left to supply a special food paste for children who need it and are looking for it. $ 3 million at the end of June.
Officials said the pandemic has also disrupted health services, with a child vaccination rate of 28% to 44%, according to the vaccine. The decline has led to an increase in diphtheria cases as health workers prepare for a measles outbreak expected this year.
UNICEF noted that unvaccinated children are also more likely to die from malnutrition.
Lamir Samedi, a nurse who works at a community health center in the southern city of Saint-Jean-du-Sud, said the goal was to vaccinate 80 percent of children in the area, but they had not yet arrived. at 50%.
Among the hospitalized children is eleven-month-old Denise Joseph, who was quietly in a crib in Les Cayes after being diagnosed with tuberculosis two weeks ago.
“He never eats,” said his grandmother, Marie-Rose Emile, who is caring for the baby as his mother is also ill. Emile struggles to provide for the baby, saying that this year he has barely harvested beans, corn or potatoes.
UNICEF official Gough said she was discouraged by the sad amounts of malnutrition and the drop in childhood vaccinations. He said more outreach services are needed because there are not enough people visiting community health centers.
Among those visiting a health center for the first time was Franceline Mileon, 27, who took her young son after hearing a health official with a megaphone in his neighborhood announcing he had begun a vaccination program. She sat on a bench, stroking her baby while she waited for a nurse to weigh her.
Overall, UNICEF said it needs about $ 49 million this year to meet humanitarian needs in Haiti, adding that little of that amount has been committed. The agency of $ 5.2 million of that amount would go to nutrition and $ 4.9 million to health, including childhood vaccines.