Democratic Republic of Congo Faces Silent Malnutrition Emergency
A joint nutrition survey by the Congolese government, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and UNICEF recently announced that children in certain areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are suffering from alarmingly high levels of malnutrition.
According to the Congolese Ministry of Health, some 530,000 children under age 5 and over 1 million pregnant women need immediate nutritional assistance. The health minister said that at least 700 children are dying of hunger each day in the five worst-hit provinces.
Experts say that a variety of factors - including a lack of healthcare, clean water and agricultural supplies, limited access to quality food and non-optimal feeding practices for young children and women - are the root causes of DRC's extreme levels of hunger. Conflict, high food prices and the global financial crisis have also made the situation worse.
Humanitarian interventions that include efforts such as counseling for families with malnourished children and short-term agricultural assistance have already decreased malnutrition rates in certain provinces of DRC, so there is hope. The Congolese government and its partners have expressed their commitment to fighting DRC's silent hungry emergency.
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