Acute undernutrition among mothers surges in Africa, UNICEF warns
Twelve countries, including Ten in Africa, are hardest hit by the global food and nutrition crisis among adolescent girls and women, UNICEF warned Monday (6 March), calling for all stakeholders to transform food, health and social protection systems for these most vulnerable people.
5.5 million pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent girls and women suffered of acute malnutrition in 2020, 6.9 million are now affected, according to a UNICEF report unveiled Monday. The “Undernourished and Overlooked: A Global Nutrition Crisis in Adolescent Girls and Women“ report calls for governments, development and humanitarian partners and donors, civil society organizations and development actors to transform food, health and social protection systems for adolescent girls and women. Symbolically released just ahead of International Women’s Day, the report warns that the ongoing crises, aggravated by ongoing gender inequality, are deepening a nutrition crisis among adolescent girls and women that has shown little improvement.
“Without urgent action from the international community, the consequences could last for generations to come,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. The report specifically calls attention to the dire state of adolescent girls’ and women’s nutrition globally — more than one billion adolescent girls and women suffer from undernutrition (including underweight and short height), deficiencies in essential micronutrients, and anaemia, with devastating consequences for their lives and wellbeing. Globally, 51 million children under 2 years suffer stunting, meaning they are too short for their age due to malnutrition. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are home to 2 in 3 adolescent girls and women suffering from underweight globally, and 3 in 5 adolescent girls and women with anaemia.