World | Philippines

148 children suffer from acute malnutrition in Typhoon-Bopha affected areas

Inadequate shelter and water supply, restricted diet gives rise to health condition

  • By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 18:11 February 18, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manila: Some 148 children under five have already shown signs of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in areas that were hard hit by Typhoon Bopha last December in southern Philippines, the UN said.

In Compostela Valley, 93 cases of SAM were found after a screening of 12,382 children under five, a ratio representing less than one per cent, said the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in a February 12 report.

There were 55 cases of SAM following the screening of 5,691 children in Davao Oriental. The figure represents one percent ratio, said UNOCHA, which concluded that SAM is “worse in Davao Oriental”.

Meanwhile, 1,200 children are expected to suffer from SAM in 2013, if the situations that give rise to malnutrition such as lack of livelihood programme and residents totally dependent on food aid, persist, UNOCHA said.

At the same time, a total of 67,000 children under five are at risk of developing malnutrition in the typhoon-blighted areas, said UNOCHA.

There were “spontaneous admissions” of severely malnourished children to hospitals, the basis of the report, said UNOCHA, adding this means that “not all cases are being identified in the [UN’s] screening process”.

Some 28,700 pregnant and lactating women could also be “at risk of malnutrition” due to poor living conditions in typhoon-ravaged areas, UNOCHA said, adding that 400,000 people in severely hit provinces “continue to be in need of sustained food assistance.”

In Davao Oriental, households have inadequate shelter and water supply, diet is restricted due to lack of livelihood for people, These are “all conducive to an increase in the rate of malnutrition in the coming weeks and months if mitigating measures are not taken,” warned UNOCHA.

Also blamed for the malnutrition cases in Campostela Valley and Davao Oriental were “accumulated debris [that] needs to be disposed of appropriately,” said UNOCHA, adding, “There are at present too few dumpsites, and as debris and household waste increase, appropriate disposal is required to reduce the health and sanitation risk [in typhoon-affected areas].”

“Households cite access to food, shelter and income as their most pressing concerns, and also their highest priorities for immediate support,” said UNOCHA, adding the agency is finalizing a comprehensive multi-agency report entitled “Emergency Food Security, Nutrition, and Livelihoods Assessments for Typhoon Bopha [affected areas in the south].”

“Diversification of income options, at least temporarily, will have [an impact] in restoring food and nutritional security, until traditional livelihoods can be restored or alternative sustainable livelihood strategies are consolidated,” UNOCHA concluded.

More than 1,000 people died and more than half a million were displaced when Typhoon Bopha hit southern Philippines.

About 21 typhoons visit the Philippines every year.

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