One million Afghan children at risk of dying due to acute malnutrition: WHO
As the Taliban government struggles to seek international recognition to allow them to receive foreign aid to stave off the economic crisis, the World Health Organisation has warned that around one million children in Afghanistan are at risk of dying due to acute malnutrition.
According to news agency Reuters, 3.2 million children in Afghanistan are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in Afghanistan by the end of this year, with the condition likely to worsen further as temperatures begin to drop.
Aid agencies have warned of famine as a drought coincides with a failing economy following the withdrawal of Western financial support in the aftermath of a Taliban takeover in August.
The health sector has been hit especially hard, with many healthcare workers fleeing due to unpaid salaries.
“It's an uphill battle as starvation grips the country. The world must not and cannot afford to turn its back on Afghanistan,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris told Geneva-based journalists by telephone from the capital Kabul.
Harris said that nighttime temperatures are falling below zero degrees Celsius and colder temperatures are expected to make the old and the young more susceptible to other diseases.
“In some places, people are chopping down trees to provide fuel for the hospitals amid widespread shortages, she added.
Measles cases are rising in the country and WHO data shows 24,000 clinical cases had so far been reported.
“For malnourished children, measles is a death sentence. We will see so many more deaths if we don't move on this quickly,” Harris said.
After the Taliban came to power in August, foreign funding was stopped. Moreover, most of Afghanistan's foreign currency reserves abroad were frozen.
According to the International Monetary Fund, Afghanistan's economy will shrink by up to 30 per cent this year.
Afghanistan's GDP in 2020 was only around $20 billion. And according to the World Bank, 43 per cent of that was based on aid money from abroad. Before the Taliban takeover, 75 per cent of public spending came from foreign aid grants.