Africa-Press – Kenya. The World Health Organization (WHO) chief on Monday warned that an estimated one million children a year die worldwide because of wasting.
During his address at the UK Global Food Security Summit in London, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that the world is “a long way from reaching” the eliminating hunger and other forms of malnutrition by 2030 target, a target set in 2015.
Tedros pointed out that globally, 45 million children under the age of five, or one in 15, are suffering from wasting, a condition where they are dangerously thin for their height.
He further noted that nearly 14 million of these children, over one-third, suffer from severe wasting, putting them at the highest risk of mortality. Moderately or severely wasted children are 11 times more likely to die due to their weakened immune response to diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia.
“Think about that: by the time we have finished our meeting today, about 900 children will have died because they don’t have enough food or care – children whose lives have only just begun,” he said.
The factors that contribute to wasting predominantly stem from poverty and escalating food costs, preventable illnesses, insufficient healthcare access, and insufficient sanitation and hygiene facilities. Additionally, hunger and famine risks are intensified by conflicts, climate change, natural disasters, and resource depletion.
The WHO chief also drew attention to the 23 countries that have completed country roadmaps to tackle wasting in children.
Tedros said: “I congratulate these countries for their leadership. Now we must support these countries to turn their roadmaps into action and lives saved.”
“The thought of anyone’s child suffering in this way is intolerable,” he said. “Because these deaths are predictable and preventable.
The one-day summit focuses international attention on the deepening global food security crisis and helps boost efforts to achieve Zero Hunger and end malnutrition.
It is designed to mobilize support for sustainable solutions that will prevent hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.