UNICEF secures $3.4 million to reduce life-threatening child wasting in six provinces
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Phnom Penh, 09 September 2022 – Following a donation of over $3.4 million US dollars from the United Kingdom Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), UNICEF will expand its work supporting the Royal Government of Cambodia to tackle the problem of child wasting across six provinces, saving an additional 5,200 lives over three years.
Wasting, sometimes known as acute malnutrition, afflicts 1 in 10 Cambodian children under five and is characterised by a low weight to height ratio. Preliminary results of the 2021 Cambodia Demographic Health Survey show that while childhood stunting decreased from 34% to 22% between 2014 and 2021, childhood wasting has remained unchanged at 10%. The new funding will allow UNICEF to support the Ministry of Health to scale-up the prevention and treatment of wasting by improving essential primary health care services in Takeo, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Oddar Meanchey provinces.
Wasting is usually related to the socioeconomic status of households, food insecurity, suboptimal child feeding practices, lack of access to safe water, or poor sanitation or hygiene. Wasting has become an even greater threat as a result of the ongoing socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 and the crisis in Ukraine, which has affected global food security and increased prices in Cambodia. Currently, less than 10 per cent of the estimated 60,000 children suffering from wasting in Cambodia have access to treatment.
In March 2020, five United Nations agencies including UNICEF released the GAP Framework – a Global Action Plan on Child Wasting – with the goal of accelerating progress in reducing child wasting around the world. In May 2021, Cambodia became one of the 21 front-running countries to develop a costed GAP Roadmap under the leadership of the Cambodian Government. The Roadmap set a target of reducing the number of children with symptoms of wasting from 10% to 5% by 2025.
The Roadmap also led to a cross-sectoral roundtable which identified that there was a shortfall of more than $8 million in funding for detection and treatment of wasting. This new funding is the latest fruit of UNICEF’s resource mobilization efforts to tackle this shortfall. It will contribute to quadrupling the number of severely wasted children receiving treatment from 5,000 to 20,000 a year by 2025, as per the Government’s target.
In addition, more than 900,000 children under the age of five will benefit from improved screening, counselling, and growth monitoring and promotion services under the new funding. More than 500,000 parents and caregivers will also benefit from increased knowledge and tools to prevent all forms of malnutrition.
"The shocking truth is that children suffering from wasting are up to eleven times more likely to die than well-nourished children,” said Foroogh Foyouzat, UNICEF’s Representative in Cambodia. “Those who survive may suffer from lifelong developmental challenges. The Cambodian Government and partners have achieved a great deal by working together to reduce malnutrition, but still today 1 in 10 children suffers from wasting, its most dangerous form. We must tackle this problem so that every child can enjoy the right to grow and thrive. We are very grateful to CIFF for helping us to get closer to achieving that goal."
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.