Malnutrition crisis worsens in Afghanistan as MSF warns of alarming increase in numbers

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Afghanistan has warned about the escalating number of malnourished patients in Afghanistan.

In a tweet on Wednesday, MSF highlighted the distressing situation faced by their team in Lashkar-Gah, the capital city of southern Helmand province.

“Over the past four months we have treated 1,061 children in our inpatient therapeutic feeding centers: an increase of 32.6% and 16.5% compared to 2021 and 2022 respectively,” MSF Afghanistan wrote in a tweet.

The organization further emphasized that the challenges faced by Afghanistan’s population in accessing well-equipped medical facilities near their residences, coupled with a severe economic crisis, have worsened the situation. “Many Afghans struggle to afford basic food items, let alone cover transportation costs for hospital visits,” MSF said.

MSF stressed the importance of enabling patients to receive treatments closer to their homes. To achieve this, substantial and immediate investment is required from local authorities and international donors.

Last week, UNICEF warned that it was had a budget shortfall of $25 million to provide  ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) to over 875,000 severely malnourished children in Afghanistan.

According to The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), four million people in Afghanistan are currently enduring severe and acute malnutrition. This figure encompasses 875 thousand children grappling with severe malnourishment, 2.3 million individuals facing relatively acute malnourishment, and 840 thousand pregnant and nursing women who are particularly vulnerable.

Poverty and hunger conditions in Afghanistan have worsened following the assumption of power by the Taliban, coupled with the discontinuation of financial aid. The UN highlights that over 28 million people in Afghanistan are in dire need of urgent humanitarian assistance, with six million teetering on the brink of famine.