Malnourished kids prone to COVID, group warns
Data from the Department of Health showed as of July 5, a total of 885 children below 14 years old have contracted COVID-19. Of this figure, 13 have died while 187 have recovered.
Noel Celis/AFP
Malnourished kids prone to COVID, group warns
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - July 12, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Local health centers should scale up maternal and child health services to protect children against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), advocacy group Save the Children Philippines said yesterday.

In a statement, chief executive officer Alberto Muyot said that “no child should die from preventable causes.”

“Children who die from COVID-19 may have been suffering from acute malnutrition or wasting caused by hunger with complications such as pneumonia and dehydration due to diarrhea,” he said.

Data from the Department of Health showed as of July 5, a total of 885 children below 14 years old have contracted COVID-19.  Of this figure, 13 have died while 187 have recovered.

Muyot said 48 percent of child deaths in the Philippines is due to severe malnutrition, caused by hunger and undernutrition. The global rate is 45 percent.

Based on the 2018 Expanded National Nutrition Survey, child malnutrition in the Philippines is one of the highest in the world, with one in three children below five years old being stunted.

The survey also showed that at least 48.2 percent of infants six to 11 months have iron deficiency anemia due to poor feeding practices and inadequate food intake.

Amado Parawan, the group’s health and nutrition advisor, said the pandemic and the enhanced community quarantine ”did not only create a situation that posed challenges to nutrition programs for severely malnourished children as operations of health centers have been disrupted.”

“Worse, it has resulted in the inability of families to meet their basic food requirements due to income losses,” he added.

National Nutrition Council executive director Azucena Dayanghirang called on all local leaders to ensure that services, especially for pregnant and lactating women and children below two years old, are continuously implemented.

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