When children suffer from acute malnutrition, their immune systems are so impaired that the risk of death is greatly increased. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malnutrition is the single greatest threat to the world’s public health, with 178 million malnourished children across the globe. The critical age for malnutrition is from six months – when mothers generally start supplementing breast milk – to 24 months. However, children under five, adolescents, pregnant, or breastfeeding women, the elderly and the chronically ill are also vulnerable. People become malnourished if they are unable to take in enough or fully utilize the food they eat, due to illnesses such as diarrhea or other longstanding illnesses, such as measles, HIV, and tuberculosis.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimates that only three percent of the 20 million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition receive the lifesaving treatment they need. Go to doctorswithoutborders.org to learn more.