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Published:May 14th, 2006 04:33 EST
Children In Niger Seeking Help At Rehabilitation Centres

Children In Niger Seeking Help At Rehabilitation Centres

By SOP newswire

The number of malnourished children in Niger seeking help at rehabilitation centres supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (<"">UNICEF) has risen sharply this year, the agency reported today.

“The situation requires not only the extreme vigilance and the continuous mobilization of all partners in the field but the firm commitment of the donor community so that we can prevent the deterioration of the situation,” said Aboudou Karimou Adjibade, UNICEF’s Representative in Niger, which last year endured a severe famine resulting from locust swarms and prolonged drought.

Between 1 January and 4 May 2006, over 64,000 malnourished children were admitted in the nutritional rehabilitation programmes, of which some 54,000 were suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and about 10,600 from severe acute malnutrition, UNICEF said.

The increase may be explained by both a seasonal increase in such malnutrition and a more effective intervention strategy by all partners following last year’s food emergency, the agency added.

However, there is an 85 per cent shortfall in the emergency appeal launched by the United Nations for the Sahel region at the end of March and UNICEF is still seeking $2.9 million to provide much-needed assistance to Niger’s children.

Within that difficult context, UNICEF welcomed the Government’s recent decision to provide free health care to children under five years old and pregnant women. “This is great news in a country where one in four children won’t reach the age of five because of a lack of access to basic health care,” Mr. Adjibade said.

Since malnourished children are more vulnerable to a range of diseases, access to health care is particularly critical at this time of high malnutrition, he added.