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Malnutrition at emergency levels in Pinga Health Zone, North Kivu, DRC; UNICEF and partners set up emergency nutritional response

GOMA, 7 May 2008 - Malnutrition rates are at emergency levels in the Pinga health zone in northwestern Masisi Territory, North Kivu, due to the continued armed conflict in the region. A UNICEF supported nutritional survey conducted by international NGO COOPI (Cooperazione Internazionale) indicated that the global acute malnutrition rates in Pinga are 17.1 per cent, far surpassing the emergency global acute malnutrition threshold of 10 per cent.

Frequent fighting since December 2006 has interrupted the supply of food to the population, hindered access to clean drinking water, destroyed health service infrastructure, precipitated widespread looting of medicine and material, and limited new nutritional interventions from being developed, placing thousands of children in the area at risk. 

UNICEF with partners COOPI and 8th CEPAC have recently opened an emergency therapeutic feeding center for severely malnourished children in Pinga town general hospital and three emergency supplementary feeding centers for moderately malnourished children in more remote villages. Since operations began over one week ago, over 100 malnourished children have started treatment.  UNICEF partners on the ground are educating the population about the existence of the feeding centers and encouraging all families with malnourished children to seek treatment. Community-based management of malnutrition activities are being planned in order to rapidly increase assistance throughout the health zone.

While UNICEF continues to closely monitor and respond the malnutrition situation in North Kivu it is concerned that current global food shortages and higher food prices will further exacerbate the situation in DRC.     

In order to respect the fundamental rights of Congolese children to survive and realize their potential UNICEF advocates for sustainable peace and stability in the eastern DRC.

Malnutrition in the DRC
Malnutrition remains one of the main factors associated with the high child morbidity and mortality rates in the DRC.  Hundreds of thousands of children have died due to malnutrition in the DRC over the past 12 years.  Malnutrition often prevents children from reaching their full physical and mental potential.  Children that stay in a prolonged state of malnourishment experience delayed physical growth and motor development, a lower IQ, greater behavioral problems, deficient social skills, and are more susceptible to contracting other diseases.

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information please contact:

Jaya Murthy, UNICEF Goma, +243 81 230 5933, jmurthy@unicef.org 
Joyce Brandful, UNICEF Kinshasa +243 81 884 6747, jbrandful@unicef.org
Brian Hansford, UNICEF Media NY, +1 212 326 7269, bhansford@unicef.org


 

 

 

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