Taliban slash child malnutrition numbers after WHO alert

KABUL, 8 Feb 2023:

The Taliban yesterday claimed they are taking measures to fight against child malnutrition in Afghanistan and reduced the number of severe cases of the condition in Afghanistan to over a million – hours after the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued an alert in this regard.

Public health ministry spokesperson Sharafat Zman Amar said the Taliban have established 800 new centres against malnutrition, taking the total number to 2,000.

“The number of registered and treated children suffering from severe and moderate acute malnutrition is not as much as was shown.”

He claimed around 47,000 children with acute malnutrition had been registered and treated so far – out of an estimated total of 1.1 million – while an equal number of moderate malnutrition cases could take the total number of affected children to 2.2 million.

However, the WHO earlier said over three million Afghan children faced the risk of malnutrition in 2023 – at a time when the Taliban’s decision to ban women from working in local and international nonprofits has jeopardised humanitarian work in the country.

“In 2023, about 875,000 children in #Afghanistan are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition, including 125,000 kids with complications. Over 2.3 million children may suffer from moderate acute malnutrition,” the body tweeted.

It added that around 840,000 pregnant women and lactating mothers were estimated to be suffering from acute malnutrition.

Amid a severe economic crisis, drought and consequences of two decades of war, it has been estimated that around 28 million Afghans – or two-third of the population – are in need of aid and around six million were on the verge of starvation.

The crisis in Afghanistan – aggravated by the Taliban seizing power in August 2021 and the subsequent disruption in international aid – has worsened the situation while Islamists and Afghan groups keep calling for the release of frozen Afghan funds worth US$7 billion.

“The world should put an end to the actions that cause poverty and unemployment in our country, such as freezing the wealth of Afghanistan and imposing more restrictions,” insisted Haseeb Rahimzai Wardak – head of Kabul’s Indra Gandhi Children’s Hospital.