Access to Essential Medicines: Ten Stories That Mattered in 2011
9. Too many Children Suffering From Malnutrition Go Unnoticed Outside Emergency Hot Spots
Each year, malnutrition claims millions of children’s lives—but this year, the world’s attention was drawn to the dramatic numbers of children suffering from malnutrition as the refugee crisis in the Horn of Africa unfolded. Thousands of Somali families fled their homes for refugee camps in neighboring countries, triggering a massive aid operation to provide them with emergency food aid.
However emergencies—while attention-grabbing—are only part of a much larger story of on-going childhood malnutrition that occurs outside the media spotlight in areas like South Asia and Africa.
Providing nutritious food to young children is the cornerstone of every attempt to fight malnutrition in both rich and developing countries. In 2010, MSF witnessed a reduction by half in the mortality among children in Niger who received nutrient-dense foods as part of supplementary feeding programs. Niger has undertaken large-scale distributions of supplementary foods for children under two at risk of malnutrition in both 2010 and 2011.
Improvements in the way we tackle childhood malnutrition are clearly underway, but more efforts are needed to ensure that nutritious food reaches all vulnerable young children wherever they live, and not just those in emergency hot spots.
Photo: Niger 2010 © Yann Libessart/MSF