Despite Global Efforts, 2.6 Million Children Die Due to Malnutrition

By: Justin Chan

As countries like Sudan struggle to contain rising food costs, a recent study has found that approximately 2.6 million children die as a result of malnutrition.

According to the Voice of America, international aid group Save the Children released a report that claims that 300 children die every hour despite global efforts to combat hunger. Increasing food prices, it adds, have forced children to quit school and help their families earn some income. Although the lack of food has been one cause of malnutrition, the major reason behind the death toll has been the lack of access to nutritious food.

The death toll figure is much more striking when it is broken down according to continent. The Boston Globe reported that almost two in five African children, or 60 million children, are severely affected by malnutrition.  Moreover, the 2011 Global Hunger Index pointed out that countries such as Congo, Burundi, Comoros, Swaziland and Ivory Coast have higher degrees of hunger today than they did in 1990. Ethiopia, on the other hand, is one of the few exceptions because of its effective nutrition program.

Asia, meanwhile, has made strides, since many countries, such as Malaysia and Bangladesh, have put a specific focus on fighting chronic malnutrition. "When we look at successful examples in Asia like Bangladesh, they have a national nutrition program,'' said Karin Lapping, a senior director of nutrition for Save the Children. "We haven't seen that to be the case in many nations in Africa.''

The lack of government oversight and external aid, the organization said, is responsible for many of the problems related to the malnutrition plaguing African countries. As such, these countries are prone to falling victim to continuous cycles of drought and famine. The report said that close to 450 million children will be affected by malnutrition by 2025 if action is not taken.

Even though global hunger has decreased in the past two decades, it has taken a huge toll on many underprivileged children. While it can lead to starvation, chronic hunger is also responsible for deaths caused by diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria. "It also likely causes permanent damage to their bodies and brains,'' said Tanya Weinberg, a spokeswoman for Save the Children.

Photo:  pr_ip

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