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Faced with Covid-19, the EU and UNICEF guarantee continuity of vital care for malnourished children in Niger

  |   SUN Country Network, SUN Donor Network, SUN UN Network

© UNICEF/Juan Haro

UNICEF Niger will benefit from USD 2.6 million dollars of financial aid from the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Union (ECHO), ensuring that children suffering from severe acute malnutrition receive quality treatment and care during the Covid-19 crisis.

“We are deeply concerned at the crisis and the risk that it will hit more vulnerable children and families hardest,” stated Dr. Félicité Tchibindat, Representative of the UNICEF in Niger. “Further efforts must be made to protect the most vulnerable,” she added.

The authorities in Niger estimate that the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition will increase by 30% this year due to the impact of Covid-19 on the country’s food security and on mother-and-child access to appropriate care and essential health services.

This new European contribution will enable UNICEF and its partners to improve rapid access to and quality of treatment for severe acute malnutrition through the purchase and provision of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) for health care facilities so that they are able to treat more than 36,000 children suffering from this condition.

In addition to implementing a coordinated approach, health workers will receive training in the comprehensive management of acute malnutrition, food practices for infants and young children, and screening activities.

According to UNICEF, despite recent efforts, malnutrition remains a major threat to the survival and development of children in Niger. Over the last few years, the global rate of acute malnutrition among children under five years has remained constantly above the warning level of 10%.

On average, each year, 350 to 400,000 children under five years suffering from severe acute malnutrition are admitted for treatment. New estimates show that this figure could reach 530,000 this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the midst of a pandemic, the situation is extremely worrying. The number of people going hungry is only increasing as the crisis worsens, with 2 million people in Niger being pushed into serious food insecurity.

“It is a critical time for children. We are deeply aware that the EU’s humanitarian agency has once again shown its commitment to the children of Niger,” stated Dr. Tchibindat. “The pandemic and its consequences represent an enormous challenge but not one that is insurmountable. We will get through this together, for each child,” she concluded.

 

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