AFRICA/MADAGASCAR - Malnutrition, lack of food, rickets: children between 6 and 23 months the most vulnerable

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Brickaville (Agenzia Fides) - In the months of May and June, Madagascar has abundance of rice crops and fruit, but this year hurricane Giovanna and the effects of tropical storm Irina, which hit the country from January to March, destroyed many fruit trees and submerged about 90% of rice fields. The Centre de Récupération et Education Nutritionnelle Intensif (CRENI) was severely damaged and all patients were transferred to the maternity ward. At CRENI in Toamasina, the provincial capital of the region of Atsinanana, during the season from January to March, every week three cases of acute childhood malnutrition with daily complications were treated. Many parents were not aware of the situation and brought their children to hospital for other causes, such as edema or rashes. About 8% of all children under 5 years of age, who live in vulnerable areas of the south and east of the western and northern coasts, are severely malnourished.
According to a study of Madagascar Demographic Health, half of all Malagasy children under five suffer from rickets, a consequence of poor nutrition. This is the sixth country in the world with the highest rate of stunting. Children between 6 and 23 months are the most vulnerable, in fact, breast milk alone does not give them the right nutrition. At a national level, around 4% of children under 6 months old who are only breastfed are severely malnourished. Food shortages in the region of Atsinanana is a recurring problem. The Southern Africa Regional Food Security Update for February 2012 showed that 80% of Madagascar's 20 million inhabitants live on less than U.S. $ 1 a day and poor households spend 74% of their meager income on food. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 28/6/2012)