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Children suffer severe malnutrition in Philippines

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The United Nations said today that infant malnutrition is a major crisis in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. A report released today shows, "up to 12,000 boys and girls aged 6-59 months suffer from severe acute malnutrition in seven severely affected provinces."

The UN says that nutrition programs need to be expanded and coordination with partner agencies is essential. Small children who experience malnutrition can suffer lasting physical and mental damage if not treated in time. Following a disaster, food shortages are inevitable leaving small children at the greatest risk.

The latest UNICEF report describes how relief agencies have screened over 21,000 children under five years of age in several storm-hit regions. UNICEF says, "Of the children screened, 172 have been found to be severely malnourished and 531 have been reported to be moderately malnourished."

UNICEF is using Plumpy'Nut to treat severe cases of malnutrition. This enriched peanut paste can save the lives of children. For infants at risk of severe malnutrition micro-nutrient powder is used as a type of preventative treatment.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing Plumpy'Doz which prevents children from falling into deadly levels of malnutrition. Plumpy'Doz is also an enriched peanut paste. The Plumpy products are essential for defeating malnutrition, but there has to be enough funding to supply these miracle foods.

Around 4.1 million people have received food aid since the disaster. Rice and high-energy biscuits have been distributed to families. Relief agencies are trying to stop the spread of malnutrition while also recovering the food production system. Seeds are crucial for farmers so they can grow crops in the coming year.

UNICEF and WFP each have relief funds for the Philippines.

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