ALBAWABA - The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) sounded the alarm after the number of pregnant and breastfeeding women suffering from malnutrition increased in several countries.
According to a UNICEF report released on International Women's Day, which coincides on Tuesday, the number of pregnant and lactating women suffering from acute malnutrition has increased from 5.5 to 6.9 million, or 25 percent, since 2020.
These women are present in 12 countries that are the epicenter of the global food and nutrition crisis, according to the report.
The countries are namely Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.
UNICEF is warning that malnutrition rates amongst pregnant and breastfeeding women have increased in the countries hardest hit by the ongoing food crisis. https://t.co/Djtmes6ns7— UNICEF (@UNICEF) March 7, 2023
The report warned that inadequate nutrition can lead to weakened immunity and impaired cognitive development in mothers and the growth of children.
It called for the implementation of mandatory legal policies and measures with a view to widening the fortification of food on a large scale, especially of routinely consumed foods.
It revealed that more than a billion women and adolescents worldwide suffer from malnutrition, including underweight and short height, deficiencies in essential micronutrients, and anemia.
The report noted that recent crises, including the war in Ukraine and the coronavirus outbreak, have made it difficult for women to get the food they need.
It urged the international community to make food security a priority, including by supporting nutrition programs that have not met their targets.
UNICEF's report called on various institutions concerned to prioritize access to affordable, safe and nutritious diets for adolescent girls and women, and to protect them from ultra-processed foods through marketing restrictions.