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Over 600,000 Afghan Children Suffer Acute Malnutrition: UNICEF

According to health officials, 650 out of every 100,000 infants die in the country

By Massoud Ansar

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has said that over 600,000 children in Afghanistan are suffering from acute malnutrition.

UNICEF warned that if these children are not provided with sufficient medical treatment, they could even die.

The Afghan Minister of Public Health Ferozudin Feroz said Afghanistan still tops the list of countries with the highest maternal and child mortality rates.

According to health officials, 650 out of every 100,000 infants die in the country.

According to (Afghan) health officials, 650 out of every 100,000 infants die in the country., Aug. 27, 2018

Meanwhile, the government of Japan on Sunday announced $8.1 million in financial assistance within the structure of UNICEF to scale up maternal and child health care in Afghanistan. This will help 3.1 million children in the country.

According to UNICEF, the grant is part of the overall support given to address the wellbeing of mothers and children, with a focus on health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene.

Since 2001, Japan has allocated over $270 million to Afghanistan’s health sector.

As part of this program the Afghanistan Maternal and Child Health Handbook (MCHHB) was developed last year. The Ministry of Public Health is now ready to roll out the implementation of the MCHHB program across all 34 provinces.

The contribution will target 5.2 million beneficiaries - 2.1 million pregnant women and 3.1 million children under two years of age - and their respective families.

Speaking on the new development, Feroz stated: “I would like to thank again the government and people of Japan for supporting the Ministry of Public Health in scaling up this important project. I would like to thank UNICEF, our trusted partner, for joining us to implement this nationwide activity. Now it is our pleasure that we would again have you as a partner to reach every mother and child with such a passport, record to a healthy future.”

Mitsuji Suzuka, Ambassador of Japan to Afghanistan said: “One of Japan's development policies is the promotion of the development and improvement of the public health system, especially for women. This system has continued for more than 70 years in Japan and has now been expanded to many parts of the world. This handbook is a collection of information that highlights the health of children. The mothers become happy when they look at the handbook and see the healthy growth of their children at growing stage and afterwards.

“Now it's time for Afghanistan to have handbooks distributed through their relevant authorities. Although, it is important, of course, the distribution of the handbook itself does not guarantee the health of the mothers and healthy growth of the children. It is essential to have a good public health network, access to health facilities and the cooperation of public health personnel. I hope that the handbook will be used well in Afghanistan and further developed.”

Japan has been assisting Afghanistan with its nation-building efforts since 2001.

“We still have some challenges that we have to look at. We have today in Afghanistan only 46 percent of children who are fully immunized who are between the ages twelve and 23 months. We have 600,000 children who have severe acute malnutrition. So those children, if they are not treated, many of them will die, many of them will have consequences for life,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan.

“I believe as an outcome of this initiative, every child will have an MCH handbook demonstrating all the services they have received since inception until five years of age and of recording all records from the system. This is a huge task and I would like to thank all partners for their efforts, for their excellent work and supporting this initiative,” added Feroz.

Since January 2016, the Ministry of Public Health, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), UNICEF, the WHO and other partners have been working together to develop Afghanistan’s first ever integrated home-based and hand-held personal record of maternal and child health and nutrition.

Category: Children, Poverty - Views: 5482


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