Malnutrition and anemia exceed levels: Rohingya children in a state of emergency

Malnutrition and anemia exceed levels: Rohingya children in a state of emergency


WASHINGTON: Malnutrition and anemia exceed internationally established emergency levels among ethnic minority Rohingya children who have fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh, US researchers warned on Tuesday.

A total of 269 children between the age bracket six months and five years were examined in the Kutupalong refugee camp in October 2017, said researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Almost 700,000 Rohingya, having a Muslim minority, have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh to escape a military crackdown since August.

Myanmar has fervently refuted US and United Nations allegations of ethnic cleansing in the study, 24% of children were certified to suffer from acute malnutrition, as indicated by their height, weight and arm circumference, putting them at increased risk of illness, starvation and death.

Chronic malnutrition was observed in 43% of children, and 48% had severe anemia, or low iron levels.

The global emergency threshold — the point when the situation is deemed a high public health concern and immediate actions must be taken — for acute malnutrition is 15%, and for anemia it is 40%, as per the researchers.

“High prevalence of anemia and poor dietary diversity highlight the need to provide more diversified family rations, expand supplemental fortified food distributions, and support continued breastfeeding,” read the research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Researchers notified that their study was based on a sample of just one camp. “A small sample size was used to provide rapid results in the context of an emergency; nutritional outcomes may differ in other refugee camps,” said the report.

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