Global Economic Downturn Increases Malnutrition, Death Rates Among African Children, U.N. Assessment Indicates

The global economic downturn is “raising malnutrition and death rates among Africa’s children” and restricting their access to health care, according to a U.N. assessment released ahead of a G20 leaders meeting later this month that will focus on ways to minimize the effect of the downturn on the world’s poorest people, VOA News reports.

At a press conference, UNICEF Social Policy Advisor Anthony Hodges said research indicates the people most-affected by the economic situation live in the developing world and Africa, in particular.  “The economic downturn will have a negative impact on households with possible serious knock-on effects on children in terms of worsened nutrition, worsened dietary diversity, in some cases withdrawal of children from schools, increased child labor, difficulties for the families to access health services and so on,” he said.

About 10 percent of people in Africa have some sort of social protection, which refers to government pension plans, health insurance and unemployment compensation, according to Hodges, who added that the economic downturn has weakened many governments’ ability to fund these social nets. S

ome African governments have been able to strengthen their social services having “
launched school feeding programs that raise nutrition levels and encourage children to attend school,” according to VOA News. The article includes examples of African countries that have expanded social programs (Bobb, 9/1).

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