The 15 countries are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.
It is estimated that over 30 million children in the 15 worst-affected countries suffer from wasting – or acute malnutrition – and eight million of these children are severely wasted, the deadliest form of malnutrition.
Conflict, climate shocks, the Covid-19 pandemic and rising living costs were leaving an increasing number of children badly malnourished.
In response, five UN agencies: the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Refugee Agency, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization (WHO) are calling for accelerated progress on the Global Plan of Action on Child Wasting.
Its plan aims to prevent, detect and treat acute child malnutrition among children with interventions in the food, health, water and sanitation, and social protection systems.
“The global food crisis is also a health crisis, and a vicious cycle: malnutrition leads to disease, and disease leads to malnutrition,” said World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Urgent support is needed now in the hardest-hit countries to protect children’s lives and health, including ensuring critical access to healthy foods and nutrition services, especially for women and children.”