Medics aim to screen thousands of Gaza children for malnutrition - GulfToday

Medics aim to screen thousands of Gaza children for malnutrition


Palestinian children suffering of malnutrition or wait with family members at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis on Monday. Reuters

 Medics in Gaza said on Monday they were working to step up screening of young children for severe malnutrition amid fears that hunger is spreading as people flee to new areas.

Aid group International Medical Corps (IMC) and partners are planning to reach more than 200,000 children under five-years-old as part of a "Find and Treat" campaign, one of its doctors, Munawwar Said, told Reuters by phone.

"With the displacement, communities are settling in new locations that do not have access to clean water, or there is not adequate access to food," he said. "We fear there are more cases being missed."

Over the weekend, families were already coming into an IMC clinic in the central city of Deir Al Balah, opened after the agency said it had to shut down two centres in the southern city of Rafah due to insecurity.

Five-year-old Jana Ayad had weighed just 9 kilogrammes when she arrived, suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting, Nutrition Officer Raghda Ibrahim Qeshta told Reuters as she carefully held the child.

Gazakid-hungry-combo-June24 Jana Ayad, a malnourished Palestinian girl, lies on a bed as her mother sits next to her at the International Medical Corps field hospital in Deir Al Balah. Reuters

"My daughter was dying in front of me," said Nasma Ayad as she sat next to the bed. "I didn't know what to do."

Jana had started putting on some weight after treatment, medics said, but she was still painfully thin with her ribs showing as she lay listlessly in her bunny pyjamas.

Staff can gauge nutrition levels by measuring the circumference of children's arms. During a Reuters cameraman's short visit at least two of the measurements were in the yellow band, indicating a risk of malnutrition. IMC data so far shows the most vulnerable are babies and infants up to two-years-old.


A group of UN-led aid agencies estimates that around 7% of Gazan children may be acutely malnourished, compared with 0.8% before the Israel-Hamas conflict began on Oct.7.

Until now the worst of severe hunger has been in the north, with a UN-backed report warning of imminent famine in March. But aid workers worry it could spread to central and southern areas due to the upheaval around Rafah that has displaced more than 1 million people and constrained supply flows through southern corridors.


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