The World of International Organizations

Study projects pandemic adds 168K child deaths

A Malian woman waits at a WFP-organized site in Bamako for food to feed her family of 22 (AN/Derek Markwell)

Hunger from the coronavirus pandemic will likely cause millions more children to suffer from severe malnutrition and add 168,000 child deaths, a study by a consortium of international organizations said on Monday.

By 2022, COVID-19 could cause 9.3 million more children to suffer from wasting and 2.6 million more children to be afflicted by stunting, both forms of severe malnutrition, mainly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, according to the study from 51 nutrition, economics, food and health system experts with the Standing Together for Nutrition Consortium.

Using modeling, the consortium of 32 international organizations — including UNICEF, USAID, the World Bank and World Food Program — looked at data and surveys this year on economic crises and disruptions to food and health systems. It concluded that poor and middle-income nations will need US$1.2 billion a year more in aid to prevent estimated impacts on child deaths, stunting and wasting, maternal anemia and children born to underweight women.

“Governments and donors must maintain nutrition as a priority, continue to support resilient systems, and ensure efficient use of new and existing resources,” the experts said in the study warning the pandemic has undone progress against malnutrition in recent decades.

The number of children who suffered from wasting had fallen to 47 million last year, down from 54 million in 2010. The number of children who were afflicted with stunting was 144 million last year, down from 199.5 million in 2000.

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