Malnutrition hits ‘Pablo’ victims–UNBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Provinces severely affected by Typhoon “Pablo” in December are seeing rising malnutrition as affected residents continue to depend on food aid due to a lack of livelihood opportunities, the United Nations agency on relief response said.
In a report dated Feb. 12, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Unocha) said there had been an “increase in rates of malnutrition” among children in typhoon-hit areas as their families continued to live without proper shelter and a source of income.
“The nutrition cluster [of aid workers] estimates that some 67,000 children under 5 are at risk of developing malnutrition and 1,200 children are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition in 2013,” the Unocha report said. It was the 19th report the agency issued since Pablo hit parts of Mindanao early in December.
The report said that cases of severe acute malnutrition, a condition where a child has a very low weight for his or her height, “have already been detected” in the worst-affected provinces of Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.
Unocha said some 28,700 pregnant and lactating women were also “expected to be at risk of malnutrition” as poor living conditions persisted.
“Technical staff in the nutrition cluster are observing an increase in spontaneous admissions of severely malnourished children to hospitals, which indicates that not all cases are being identified in the screening process,” the agency said.
Unocha said debris “continues to be an issue” in the proper delivery of relief goods to those in need in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.
“As the clearing continues, the accumulated debris needs to be disposed of appropriately. There are at present too few dumpsites, and as debris and household waste increase, appropriate disposal is required to reduce the health and sanitation risk,” the agency said.
Unocha estimated that some 400,000 people in severely hit provinces “continue to be in need of sustained food assistance.”