Poor Children Should Be Allowed To Die:

  • Yes

  • No

  • I don’t care


I make no apologies for repeating one of the most hard-hitting headlines of recent times. The above was used by UNICEF as a fund raiser. Its shock effect must be one of the toughest ever used by a charity.

The point it was trying to get over was that 10 million children die every year from malnutrition and that is an undoubted fact.


Malnutrition in the developing world is the major cause of preventable early death of children.


The ad in question stated the true point that 10 million children die from preventable causes each year.

Lack of water and nutritious food.

No access to immunizations for totally preventable diseases.

Or the effects of natural or manmade disasters.

It is a fact that in the 21st century children die from pneumonia, diarrhoea or measles.

Are you shocked at that? We in the developed world take it for granted that our kids are given regular health checks, are immunized and monitored from a very young age. Why should it be any different for kids from another country?

1000 Days of Development

Take care of the mother from conception through the first 2 years of a baby’s life and you stand a chance to beat malnutrition.

The health of the mother is crucial to the prevention of malnutrition. With the right nutrients during pregnancy and with exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of the child’s life they stand a chance.

Babies who do not breastfeed are more than 14 times more likely to die from diarrhoea or respiratory infections than babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first six months.

Mothers and children both need sufficient nourishing food. The education, empowerment and involvement of women is essential if we are to enable every child to have the opportunity to survive and flourish.

This report from 2015 gives an in depth breakdown:

Effects On Country’s Economics

Malnutrition also harms national economies. The World Bank estimates that low-income countries can lose 2 to 3 per cent of their annual GDP because of child malnutrition. In the 2012 Copenhagen Consensus, five leading economists concluded that fighting child malnutrition should be the top priority for global funding. They agreed that the best solution was a bundle of interventions to prevent malnutrition in pre-school children.


A rapid decline in nutrition can lead to wasting. This is the most common form of acute malnutrition during a major food shortage and, in its severe form, can quickly lead to death if untreated. It is characterised by severe wasting of body fat and muscle, which the body breaks down to make energy. A wasted child’s body tries to conserve as much energy as possible by reducing physical movement and growth, restricting bodily processes and shutting down the immune system. This reduced activity results in limited function of the liver, kidney heart and gut, putting the child at risk of low blood sugar, low body temperature, infection and heart failure. Children who suffer from wasting face a markedly increased risk of death. Worldwide, 52 million children under the age of five suffer from wasting because of malnutrition. That’s about 1 in every 12 children!

Climate Change and Malnutrition Go Together

Children are already affected by the changing climate as it intensifies the threats of the 3 greatest child killers of diarrhoea, malnutrition  and malaria.

Children are hit hardest during natural disasters such as floods and droughts. These disasters also damage food production, killing livestock, destroying crops and forcing people to abandon their land. Less food and higher food prices increase the risk of children going hungry and becoming malnourished.

Malnutrition is a Global Problem

9 out of 10 children who are malnourished live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While many people may think of Africa when they think of child malnutrition; in fact, one in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India.

Stunting, Wasting and Underweight

One in three children under the age of 5 is stunted in Africa and one in four in Asia. Stunting is most prevalent in East Africa (42 per cent), but South-Central Asia has the greatest number of stunted children – a shocking 69 million children whose physical and mental growth has been permanently damaged by a lack of nutritious food.

Seventy per cent of children who are wasted live in Asia; most in South-Central Asia, where one in six children is moderately or severely wasted because of lack of nutritious food.

One child in every three is moderately or severely underweight in South Asia. The total number is simply staggering: 58 million children underweight!

Treating Malnutrition In Children

Treatment may involve:

  • Changes in Diet, eating foods high in nutrients and energy.
  • Support to manage the child’s nutritional intake.
  • Treatment for underlying medical conditions.
  • Adding Vitamins and Mineral Supplements.

Severely malnourished children need to be fed and rehydrated with great care.

They will require special and gradual hospital care.

Once well enough they can then begin a gradual program to a normal diet at home. They must be monitored regularly with weight and height measurements checked.

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