Amid the worst-ever economic crisis in Sri Lanka, malnutrition has increased among children under the age of five, Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said on Thursday, adding that that steps are being taken to address the issue.
In an address to Parliament, Rambukwella said there was an increase in the malnutrition figures in 2021 and 2022, and one of the major reasons for this situation was the unethical promotion of certain food items, reports Xinhua news agency.
The health habits of children and the reduction of people’s purchasing power during the country’s economic crisis had also led to an increase in the malnutrition among children, he added.
During the peak of the crisis last year, the Unicef had appealed for $25 million to meet the urgent needs of 1.7 million children affected by the situation in the island nation.
In a recent report, the UN agency said that Sri Lanka’s acute economic crisis that is expected to continue throughout 2023, with an estimated 6.2 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance this year.
Even before the current crisis, Sri Lanka had the second highest child malnutrition rate in South Asia, and 2 in 5 infants were not fed the minimum acceptable diet, according to the Unicef.
With soaring food prices now, 70 per cent of households have reported reduced food consumption, and the fuel crisis and frequent power cuts are hindering vital services for children, including healthcare and education.