Nimroz province records ‘alarming’ spike in malnourished children

Nimroz Provincial Hospital has registered more than 36,000 cases of malnutrition among children this solar year (from March 2022), marking the highest malnutrition rate among all provinces in  Afghanistan.

A source from the hospital, who wished to remain anonymous due to Taliban’s restrictions, told Amu TV that the number of malnourished children in Nimroz province is “alarming” as the hospital registers at least 180 to 200 children – mostly suffering from moderate malnutrition – on a daily basis.

According to her, poverty and an economic crisis following the collapse of the former government into the hands of the Taliban have been associated with an “unprecedented” increase in the “fatality” of malnourished children, and malnutrition statistics in the country are “catastrophic”.

She added that the hospital “more than 36,000 malnourished children, of which 10,000 had acute malnutrition and 26,000 were moderately and mildly malnourished.”

According to the source, the malnutrition rate among the children in Nimroz is the highest compared to other provinces in Afghanistan. She added that on Sunday as many as 50 children with severe malnutrition were hospitalized in the provincial hospital.

The source also raised her voice over the lack of facilities and capacity at the hospital to meet the needs of all patients in the province. She added that resources at the hospital are limited and that physicians cannot hospitalize all children brought to the hospital for treatment.

The source added that due to the high number of malnourished patients, food and milk donated by a number of organizations for malnourished children are not adequate; therefore, more attention should be paid to Nimroz hospital.

Meanwhile, the number of malnutrition cases in Nimroz has increased by 30-35 percent among children and 25 percent among mothers compared to last solar year.

“Zaranj [provincial] hospital registered 16,000 children and mothers suffering from malnutrition in Nimroz last year; this year, this figure has more than doubled to 36,000 people. In addition, last year, 70 children died of acute malnutrition in Nimroz provincial hospital,” the source said.

The child malnutrition consultant said that most of the children, registered at the Nimroz hospital, “had been malnourished in their mothers’ wombs and that the mothers are not eating enough food during the pregnancy period”.

She stated that the fatality rate among children suffering from malnutrition increased unprecedentedly during this year, adding: “During one week, 10 hospitalized children died in the hospital. Those who die at home are not registered at all. This year, the death rate has increased by 85 percent; But we are not allowed to record them; Because if the problem is reported to the institutions, they will question us that despite all their assistance, why are children still dying of hunger and malnutrition and the Taliban are strongly reacting to this issue? But the number of people suffering from malnutrition is increasing day by day,” she said.

Fatima’s endless grief

Fatima, 30, has four children, of whom two are suffering from malnutrition.

In an interview with Amu TV, she said that her two children, 11 months and 2 years old, are severely malnourished and are undergoing treatment at the Zarang hospital.

Complaining about her financial hardships, she said: “My husband is busy in labor work. He can barely manage to make money during the week, which is not enough for our living costs. Our life is worse than hell, my children sometimes cry from hunger until they fall asleep.”

Fatima added that she does not have a healthy diet and cannot provide adequate nutrition to her babies through breastfeeding.

“11-month-old Imran weighs 3 kilos and 2-year-old Sulaiman weighs 5 kilos. We don’t even have food to eat,” she added.

My children were 1.5 kilograms at birth

Marzia, another mother who lives in Khaja Karim village of Zaranj city is also struggling financially. She said her child died of acute malnutrition and now her other child is also suffering from the same disease.

Marzia, who has four children, said: “All my children were born weak and thin. They did not weigh more than 1.5 to 2 kilos at the time of birth. Karima weighed 1.5 kg when she was born, when she was six months old, the doctors gave her a food [aid] card, and now the hospital has been feeding her for 1 month.”

The emotionally distraught mother told Amu TV that she is in a very vulnerable situation and cannot afford to provide her children with food and “I am a widow and work in people’s homes to earn a living.”

“Some days when I don’t work, my children go to sleep hungry; Therefore, I have to bear the suffering and hardship on myself so that I can find [money] for house rent, water, and fuel [to heat my home]. I have to work. Because of this, my two children became malnourished one after the other due to inadequate nutrition and the heavy pressure of work led to them being malnourished in my womb; one died and the other is in critical condition,” Marzia added.