Massive undernutrition is threatening above all children in the flood regions

by Lydia Koch/SRA,  2010/10/01

After Pakistan has experienced one of the most devastating floods in its history, it is now to be feared that the nutrition situation will aggravate in the South Asian country. In the framework of providing needy families with essential relief goods, humedica is now planning to expand our programmes regarding the nutrition situation of children in Pakistan.

According to public figures, more than 1,700 people died due to the floods and 2,000 were injured. Of the about 21 millions of flood victims almost 8.6 million are children. Currently, humedica is deployed in the city of Sukkur in the south of the country. There, our relief team has encountered numerous cases of severely undernourished children. One of them had almost starved to death.

Thousands of children in Pakistan depend on distributions of additional food. Photo: humedica/Raphael Müller

humedica is planning to initiate a programme for preventing undernutrition in the affected regions as soon as possible. By means of running mobile hospitals and by focussing in particular on children below the age of five, the team will provide food supplements and medications, and furthermore act as consultants for nursing mothers.

This last measure is to encourage mothers in the flood regions to nurse their babies, since by breastfeeding them they can give them all basic nutrients which are important for the children’s development.

Even long before the flood, malnutrition had already been a serious problem in Pakistan. Due to widespread poverty in the country, people can only obtain low-quality food with a low nutritional value. This leads to deficiency symptoms or – in the case of children – to slower cognitive development and worse performance at school.

Poor families can hardly ever afford substantial food. Many children therefore suffer from a lack of nutrients. Photo: humedica/Raphael Müller

This lack of nutrients also affects adults and weakens their performance, in particular regarding their work. On the long run, the problem of undernutrition will have a negative impact on Pakistan’s economic productivity.

According to studies, 44 percent of children living in rural areas of Pakistan are of very small stature due to undernutrition. Many of them die young, since their body organs could not develop fully during their childhood. Therefore, we need to take measures urgently in order to protect children from the consequences of undernutrition.

Another risk to health is posed by the fact that many mothers do not nurse their babies frequently, or not at all. If the baby food which is given to the children instead is prepared with polluted water or under unhygienic conditions, the children are in danger of contracting other diseases.

It is essential to explain to the mothers how important it is to nurse their babies. Breast milk is highly nutritious and can therefore contribute to preventing the babies from suffering deficiency symptoms. Photo: humedica/Raphael Müller

Thousands of children in Pakistan are already undernourished. In order to ensure that they can grow and develop properly, we need to focus on long-term relief measures targeted on babies and infants as well as on nursing mothers.

In order to grant that distributed food has a high nutritious value, food packages for starving refugees should furthermore be collected according to international relief standards.

This description is to inform you about humedica’s plans regarding our continuing commitment in the country. Please support our work by means of sending a text message containing the reference DOC to 8 11 90 or by making a targeted donation via our online form. Of course you can also make your donation by means of a bank transfer to the account below:
         humedica e.V.
         Donation reference “Flood relief Pakistan”
         Account 47 47
         Bank Code 734 500 00
        Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

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