Transforming the fight against severe malnutrition
Through treatment and creating ways to avoid illness
It was the middle of the night. Raneem Hani Ahmed Hasan was worried. She knew she had to do something immediately. “I was so scared when my son got sick. I jumped on a motorbike at 2 a.m.,” she remembers. Raneem’s 4-month-old son, Sanad, had been vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea. “Women in our town don’t ride bikes normally, but I didn’t care. I was scared for my son and would do anything to help him.”
Raneem drove in the dark to Ibn Khaldon Hospital in the city of Lahij, in southern Yemen. When she arrived, Raneem discovered what was wrong with her son. Sanad, like millions of other children in Yemen, was suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Otherwise known as severe wasting, it’s prevalent in this war-torn country.
Thankfully, the hospital has a Therapeutic Feeding Centre, which is supported by UNICEF. At the centre, children and their caregivers can access the health and nutrition care they urgently need.
Thanks to the medical and nutrition care Sanad has been receiving, he’s now significantly healthier. “I can see how much he has changed, my baby is finally smiling and laughing. It makes me so happy,” reflects Raneem.
Sanad’s story is one that’s familiar to millions of children and their families as the world confronts an unprecedented food and nutrition crisis.
According to UNICEF estimates, almost 45 million children are affected by wasting – the most immediate, visible and life-threatening form of malnutrition. Children with wasting are too thin and their immune systems are weak, leaving them vulnerable to developmental delays, disease and death. As climate change and conflict continue to wreak havoc, particularly in already vulnerable parts of the world, the number of children with wasting is likely to keep growing.
UNICEF has been working to highlight the magnitude of the nutrition crisis and working with partners to reach children in the countries that are particularly affected. But sustained funding and support are needed to ensure that we can continue expanding this work to prevent, detect and treat deadly severe malnutrition.
Sanad was one of millions of children worldwide benefiting from UNICEF support. With demand for RUTF increasing, more funding is needed to reach children with this simple yet incredibly effective treatment that can mean the difference between life and death. But scaling up the response to the threat posed by wasting doesn’t just mean scaling up treatment – it also means massively expanding efforts to prevent children experiencing wasting in the first place. Child wasting is preventable – it doesn’t happen when nutritious diets, essential health and nutrition services and positive nutrition and care practices are available to women and children.
UNICEF is already delivering the largest nutrition response on record. But continued funding and support is needed to make sure we fulfil our commitment to the most vulnerable children.