Malnutrition Background Document
Persistent high rates of child mortality in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will not be reduced if malnutrition is not addressed more aggressively. This is a medical emergency.
MSF teams see the devastating impact of childhood malnutrition every day, having treated more than 150,000 children in 99 programmes in 2006. Malnutrition weakens resistance and increases the risk of dying from pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and AIDS, five diseases that are responsible for half of all deaths in children under five. Despite its overwhelming contribution to child mortality and its impact on longterm health, treatment of malnutrition has not been a high enough priority in international and national public health planning and programming.
Deprived of essential nutrients a young child will stop growing. Those that survive are often scarred by longterm consequences that include stunted growth and developmental delays, as well as an increased risk of chronic disease and lower life expectancies as adults.