UNITED Nations Children’s Find (ENICEF) reports that 500 000 children were screened for malnutrition in the month of May alone.
In an update, UNICEF confirmed that some of the cases were moderate while some were acute requiring hospitalisation.
“In May, more than 500K children were screened in Zimbabwe for acute malnutrition. Of those screened 562 were admitted for treatment of moderate acute malnutrition and 332 were admitted for severe acute malnutrition,” said the UNICEF update.
The World Food Program (WFP) has reported that around 7.7 million people in the country are food insecure with a trend showing increasing hunger in urban areas.
The WFP has since revealed that less than 20 % of the country’s child population has access to dietary diversity.
Acute malnutrition among children under five rose to 3.6% in 2019, up from 2.5% in 2018.
“Of particular concern is that only 11% of children aged 6–23 months consumed a minimum acceptable diet.
“Even though 83 % of children were breastfed until their first birthday, only 42% were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months,” the WFP documents said.
The cases are prevalent in Makoni which has 7.4 %, Mutare 5%, Seke 6 %, Mhondoro-Ngezi 6%, Sanyati 6%, Binga 6.1%, Lupane 5.2%, Masvingo 7.4% and Goromonzi 19%.
The report notes that 17% of children aged 6–23 months meet the minimum dietary diversity requirement while 42% of children under 6 months are exclusively breastfed.
The study attributed these factors as major contributors to the severe anaemia levels among children.
“Around half of rural households lacked access to basic water sources. Almost a third, 31 % used open defecation while water treatment plants have critical shortages of chemicals due to lack of foreign currency,” said WFP.