'10,000 children are dying every month from COVID-linked hunger'

Updated: Jul 29, 2020, 07:57 IST | Agencies | Hounde

All around the world, COVID-19 and its restrictions are pushing already hungry communities over the edge

One month old Haboue Boue sits on her mother's lap as a nurse gives her treatment for severe malnutrition in Burkina Faso. File picA
One month old Haboue Boue sits on her mother's lap as a nurse gives her treatment for severe malnutrition in Burkina Faso. File picA

The lean season is coming for Burkina Faso's children. And this time, the long wait for the harvest is bringing a hunger more ferocious than most have ever known.

That hunger is already stalking Haboue Solange Boue, an infant who has lost half her former body weight of 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg) in the first month. With the markets closed because of COVID-19 curbs, her family sold fewer vegetables. Her mother is too malnourished to nurse her.

"My child," Danssanin Lanizou whispers, choking back tears as she unwraps a blanket to reveal her baby's protruding ribs. The infant whimpers soundlessly.

All around the world, COVID-19 and its restrictions are pushing already hungry communities over the edge, cutting off meagre farms from markets and isolating villages from food and medical aid. Virus-linked hunger is leading to the deaths of 10,000 more children a month over the first year of the pandemic, according to an urgent call to action from the United Nations shared with The Associated Press ahead of its publication in the Lancet medical journal.

"The food security effects of the COVID crisis are going to reflect many years from now," said Dr. Francesco Branca, the World Health Organisation head of nutrition. "There is going to be a societal effect."

In Burkina Faso, for example, one in five young children is chronically malnourished. From Latin America to South Asia to sub-Saharan Africa, more families than ever are staring down a future without enough food. The analysis published Monday found about 1,28,000 more young children will die over the first 12 months of the virus.

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Vietnam on Tuesday locked down its third-largest city for two weeks after 15 patients and health workers in a hospital tested positive for novel Coronavirus. Public transport into and out of Da Nang was cancelled. The lockdown has dealt a hard blow to the city' tourism industry, which was just being revived after earlier cases mostly subsided in April. In China, 68 new cases, including 64 locally transmitted in Xinjiang province, were reported on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention head Gao Fu said he has been injected with an experimental vaccine in an attempt to persuade the public to follow suit when one is approved.

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