KOMPAS.com – The social and economic crisis caused by the corona virus pandemic has the potential to cause nearly seven million children to be stunted due to malnutrition, the United Nations (UN) said on Tuesday (28/07).
Stunting is a condition of growth failure in children (body and brain growth) due to malnutrition.
Even before Covid-19 it was estimated that there were 47 million toddlers who experienced moderate to severe weight loss (wasting) that mostly live in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
Now, as a result lockdown and disrupting vital aid routes in international trade, the United Nations warned that a corona virus pandemic would create “intergenerational effects” on the health of millions of people.
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In an article in a medical journal The Lancet, the expert team shows the results of computer modeling estimates of food supply in 118 poor and middle-income countries.
As a result, they found that wasting due to moderate to severe malnutrition for children under the age of five will increase by 14.3%, equivalent to 6.7 million additional cases.
Wasting occurs when the body is severely malnourished so that the muscles and fat in the body begin to decrease quickly.
The worst scenario, 180,000 children are threatened with death
A number of studies have also shown a clear relationship between wasting with chronic and severe health conditions later in life.
“Nutritional deficiencies in infants in the early phases of life due to the profound impact of the Covid-19 pandemic can create inter-generational consequences for children’s growth and development and lifelong impacts on education, risk of chronic diseases and overall human formation,” the researchers wrote, as quoted. news agency AFP.
In the modeling, the worst-case scenario due to the corona virus pandemic is causing small children to lose 50 percent of their nutritional intake and care services, of which nearly 180,000 could potentially die this year alone.
Wasting is responsible for one in 10 infant deaths in low and middle income countries.
Recent research also shows that a pandemic will bring about 140 million people into extreme poverty – that is, living on less than 1.90 dollars a day.
In countries that have experienced a humanitarian crisis, UNICEF (UN Agency for Children) has warned that up to 100 percent of essential nutrition services could be disrupted.
Also read: Fulfillment of Balanced Nutrition Into the Key to Prevent Stunting
In an open letter signed by the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, it was written that this condition could be minimized by its impact, if an additional aid budget of at least 2.4 billion US dollars was made to protect children at risk.
“We must move forward together with sustainable action and invest in nutrition today and reduce the impact of the Covid-19 crisis and the potential for intergenerational inheritance related to hunger and malnutrition in children,” he said.