UNICEF warns of critical funding gap for life-saving malnutrition treatment in Afghanistan

UNICEF in Afghanistan is warning of a critical funding gap for ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), a nutrient-rich paste that is used to treat severe acute malnutrition in children.

Melanie Galvin, UNICEF’s Chief of Nutrition, said in a video posted on Twitter, that 875,000 children in Afghanistan suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year. If left untreated, severe acute malnutrition can be life-threatening. Even if children survive, they can suffer from lifelong developmental issues.

RUTF, Melanie Galvin said, is a “highly efficient and effective” which can cure severe malnutrition “in as little as 8 weeks.” But UNICEF, she said, had a $21 million funding shortage to buy RUTF and train health workers across Afghanistan.

The UNICEF warning comes a day after the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Afghanistan (OCHA)’s call the need for funding humanitarian efforts.

OCHA said: “With adequate funding, humanitarian partners can reduce large-scale hunger, prevent disease outbreaks & reduce the chances of women dying giving birth. The price of doing nothing has never been higher.”

According to UN, 28 million people in Afghanistan are need of humanitarian assistance, which has been made worse by the Taliban’s restrictions on women.

With the group’s refusal to reverse restrictions on women and girls, according to USAID chief, Samantha Power, donors are becoming hesitant to make contributions to funding appeals.