By Andrew Wasike
NAIROBI, Kenya (AA) - The UN released a report Tuesday highlighting the drastic rise of malnutrition in pregnant women, particularly in Africa.
It revealed a 25% surge in acute malnutrition in 12 poor countries affected by surging food costs caused by ongoing conflicts in the past two years.
The report indicates that the number of pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent girls and women suffering from acute malnutrition has increased from 5.5 million to 6.9 million, representing a 25% surge since 2020.
UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell warned that the “hunger crisis is pushing millions of mothers and their children into hunger and severe malnutrition.” She added that “without urgent action from the international community, the consequences could last for generations to come.”
The increase is attributed to the global food and nutrition crisis which has hit 12 countries the hardest.
Among the countries, 10 are in Africa while two are in Asia.
They include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.
The countries are facing multiple crises, including conflict, displacement and devastating climate change effects. The crises have disrupted livelihoods and access to essential services, further exacerbating malnutrition among vulnerable populations.
Poor nutrition in pregnant and breastfeeding women can lead to several health issues, including premature births, low birth weight, stunting and wasting in newborns, according to the report.
Children born to malnourished mothers are also more likely to develop chronic health problems and have a higher risk of mortality.
The statistics come one day before International Women's Day.
The report indicates that the situation of malnutrition in women is a severe issue that needs immediate attention to help pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and their newborns.
The UN has urged countries to prioritize and scale up nutrition interventions for women and children in the affected countries.