East Asia sees 17% increase in proportion of children suffering from acute malnutrition
Save the Children is warning of a global increase in acutely malnourished children for the first time in a decade – with the increase most evident in East Asia.
The charity’s Child Development Index – published every four years – measures child development against three criteria: the number of children in school, under five mortality rates and the number of underweight children.
Whilst there has been impressive progress in cutting child mortality and getting more children into school, acute malnutrition is on the rise. In East Asia, the proportion of children suffering from wasting – an indicator of acute malnutrition - rose by almost 17%.
The findings come amid a back drop of high and volatile food and fuel prices, which is making it much harder for families to afford to feed their children properly.
“When prices of food and fuel increase, children are the first to go without. The Child Development Index is showing very clearly that this is the case. We have seen great improvements in both health and education” said Jasmine Whitbread, CEO of Save the Children, “However we must not forget the most basic of needs: food. This alarming increase in children suffering from acute malnutrition threatens to undo decades of work by governments and the international community.”
However, the picture in other parts of Asia was starkly different. China, the world’s most populous nation, was the highest climber in the Asia region rising 13 places to reach 29thin the Index. The percentage of underweight children there has decreased by 6% points.
Japan is the top of the Index with zero percent of children underweight and a 100% primary school enrollment rate.
“We have seen that progress is possible. We must act now and set national and international targets to dramatically bring down the number of acutely malnourished children,” said Whitbread.