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UNICEF responds to nutritional emergency in Togo

Second phase of campaign launched: Detection and treatment of malnourished children

TOGO, 9 June 2008- In Togo, the malnutrition rates for children under five years old is an alarming 14.3 per cent, well  above the emergency malnutrition levels of 10 per cent. In three of the five Togolese regions (Maritime, Kara, and Savanes), more than 77,000 children suffer from malnutrition, with 18,800 suffering from acute malnutrition.

More than six in 10 Togolese live below the poverty line (on less than $2 per day) - many parents cannot even cover the cost of transportation to take their suffering child to be treated at the nearest health centre.

To address this disturbing situation, UNICEF has opened 134 nutritional rehabilitation centres, trained more than 350 health agents and close to 1,400 community health agents, supplied more than 200 tons of therapeutic food, medicine, anthropometric material, and developed tools for the collection of data and the follow-up of activities in the health centres.

With financial support from donors such as ECHO, these UNICEF interventions will enable nearly 77,000 children to be treated, more than a million children to get nutritional supplements and more than 90,000 pregnant and feeding women to benefit from awareness-raising on breast-feeding and good food practices.

UNICEF is now launching the second phase of its programme to fight malnutrition: ‘The Advanced Strategy of Detection and Treatment of Malnourished Children’. The campaign’s aims to target the most isolated communities in order to identify and treat children suffering from malnutrition. 72 villages in the Savanes Region and 60 localities in the Kara Region have been identified.  In June the campaign will extend to the Maritime Region.

UNICEF’s objectives include educating mothers about malnutrition and its prevention by adopting a community-based approach. This includes offering a package of services for the prevention of malnutrition:
• The supply of nutritional supplements; vitamin A and Albendazole in order to reduce micronutrient deficiencies among children under five;
• Implementation of an awareness-raising campaign for pregnant and breast feeding women.

In conclusion UNICEF’s global strategy to fight against malnutrition is based on three pillars:

1. Continue to open nutritional rehabilitation centres ( 172 new openings planned) and strengthen the training of health agents;
2. Extend a mobile campaign of detection and treatment of malnutrition;
3. Promote the package of services.

With to the current increase in food prices, UNICEFs action have become even more crucial. UNICEF works in close collaboration with the Government, WFP, FAO and NGOs in order to respond effectively to the nutritional crisis and to prevent the damages that a food crisis could cause in Togo. 

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:
Una McCauley, Representative - umccauley@unicef.org
Essi Fafa Soulé, Communication Specialist - fsoulé@unicef.org




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