Canada assists children with malnutrition in Ethiopia

As part of its ongoing support, the Government of Canada has provided 99.5 million ETB (US$2.4 million) to UNICEF to help in addressing malnutrition among young children in Ethiopia.

This critical and timely funding will enable UNICEF to procure lifesaving, ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) for the treatment of 37,250 under-five children with severe acute malnutrition, according to the press statement from UNICEF.

“As we all continue to cope with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis that has exacerbated the socio-economic drivers of child wasting globally, we value UNICEF’s expertise and experience in addressing the acute malnutrition needs of children affected by crisis and conflict,” said Stéphane Jobin, Ambassador of Canada to Ethiopia. “Canada is pleased to support UNICEF’s efforts to deliver life-saving RUTF to children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Ethiopia.”

“The support from the Government of Canada comes at a critical time when UNICEF Ethiopia is facing a worrying gap in RUTF supply,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia. “This funding will ensure that there is no break in the supply of RUTF and treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition. It will save the lives of the most vulnerable children who have been affected by conflicts and natural disasters.”

In 2020, an estimated 438,700 children in Ethiopia suffering from severe acute malnutrition were treated for malnutrition, the highest number the country has ever recorded. This year, considering the combined effects of climate change, desert locusts, the secondary impacts of COVID-19 and conflict-induced displacements, UNICEF is targeting 500,000 children, including 18,400 refugees, with treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

In addition to procuring RUTF, UNICEF Ethiopia will provide technical support and monitor the implementation of malnutrition treatment in health facilities, ensuring that the RUTF reaches the most vulnerable children and is properly utilized, according to the statement.

A study, Prevalence of Malnutrition and Associated Factors among Children in Rural Ethiopia, shows that the prevalence of malnutrition among children in rural Ethiopia has been high. This 2017 study stated that the age of the child, maternal education, wealth status, and birth interval were associated with nutritional status of children in rural Ethiopia.

“Special attention needs to be given to the problem of malnutrition among rural children in the country since the problem is extensive compared to previous studies done using the conventional methods of assessing nutritional status,” the study stated.