Afghanistan And The Tales of Malnutrition.

Since January 13,000 babies have died from malnutrition and hunger related diseases in Afghanistan. Malnutrition is defined as lack of sufficient nutrients in the body. Malnourished children look short for their age, thin as bloated, listless and have week immune system. As per the reports 95% of the population does not have enough to eat and 3.5 million children need nutritional support. On an average more than 170 babies dies every single day.

Afghanistan also urgently need a functional banking system to address the crisis. Human rights advocates are demanding that the US immediately release billions of dollars which is it seized from Afghanistan’s Central bank. The main problem is the shattering recession and currency crisis that has crushed the Afghan economy since American troops withdrew. Amidst the heart rending sound of dozens of hungry babies crying and desperate please for help from their mothers, nurses scramble to prioritize the children who need urgent care  

Lashkar Gah is a city in the capital of Helmand, Jalil Ahmed is brought in hardly breathing. His hands and feet are cold. He is rushed to the resuscitation room. His mother says he is two and half years old, but he looks a lot tinier. He is severely malnourished and has tuberculosis. Doctors work fast to revive him.

His mother watches in tears. 

I am helpless as he suffers, I have spent the whole night scared that any minute  he will stop breathing” she says.

Space has to be made in an already full Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Now for little Jalil. A doctor carries him there in his arms as a nurse follows holding up the bottles of fluid and medicines that are being injected into his body through the multiple tubes. There is no time for the staff to stop. They must quickly put another baby, 5 months old Aliya, back on Oxygen. It’s her third time in hospital. Doctors said she wouldn’t make it but she did.

Photo by Farid Ershad

1 in every 5 children admitted to critical care is dying and the situation is getting worse by the spread of highly contagious Measles that damage the body’s immune system, a deadly blow for babies already suffering from malnutrition. A data collected by UNICEF shows a massive surge in the number of children with severe acute malnutrition admitted to hospitals from 2,407 in August 2021 to 4,214 in December 2021. But a large number of children are missed in this data because they haven’t taken to hospitals due to the reason that their families can’t afford it. Even if they can they would need to travel for hours on rubble roads.

The Musa Qala and Gereshk districts hospitals are overrun with malnourished children. There are no female doctors. There are no ICUs . The hospital buildings are run down, cold and dark. Electricity comes and goes. Night temperature drops to 4°C. The doctors didn’t receive their salaries from August. They don’t have proper equipment and medical supplies. From November, they and some other hospitals have been receiving payments through Humanitarian organization like UNICEF, WHO, and local charity Baran.

Children are most vulnerable in the crisis of hunger, the youngest generation is being left to die. Acute malnutrition rates in 28 out of 34 provinces are high with more than 3.5 million children in need of nutritional support, said Dr Rameez Alakborov, a UN deputy special representative.

Javid Hazher, a spokesman of Ministry of Public health, said we had around 1,24,800 premature children so far since the beginning of 2022. Normally, 10% of these children die, according to estimates 13,700 children died. Afghanistan has the highest rate of mothers dying during childbirth.

Some websites to donate to Afghanistan

  • Afghanaid
  • The halo trust
  • IRC
  • British Red Cry
  • WHO

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