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Getting malnourished children in Mali on the road to recovery

Chronic malnutrition among children is a serious public health issue in Mali, affecting more than 26% of all the children under 5 years of age. According to UNICEF, nearly half of all deaths of children under five in the country are linked to undernutrition.

In 2020, an estimated 4.3 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. For more than 7 years now, Mali has been torn by conflicts and insecurity that have had severe consequences on people’s access to food, livelihoods and basic social services, such as health. This is on top of widespread poverty, recurrent droughts and floods that destroy food harvests and disease outbreaks, such as malaria, that weaken communities. All these factors, together with poor food diversity and access to drinking water, hygiene and sanitation, and insufficient awareness about infant and young child feeding practices, contribute to the serious situation of undernourishment in children in Mali.

Potentially life-threatening in its severe form, malnutrition affects mostly children under 5 years of age, and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. It has devastating consequences on children’s development and survival. It impairs their normal physical and cognitive development, and also weakens their bodies’ capacity to fight off illnesses. Common infections can, as a result, put their life in danger.

Every year, through its humanitarian funding, the EU supports projects in Mali, but also in other countries in the region, that are providing life-saving emergency treatment against severe acute malnutrition, while also providing nutrition support, training to health workers to provide quality treatment, meal support to parents while tending to their hospitalised children, awareness raising on malnutrition prevention and early detection, and access to basic medical care. Among other aid organisations, the EU is helping UNICEF to purchase and provide therapeutic foods and essential medicine to health facilities across the country. In 2019, EU humanitarian aid helped UNICEF treat more than 22,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Mali.

One of the health centres benefitting from this support is the Mossinkore Community Health Centre, in Mopti, central Mali, a region which, in the last two years, has seen a worsening security situation and an increase in the number of people who had to flee their homes for safety.

Text and photos © UNICEF 2019. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

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