Health

UN: Nearly Half-Billion People Undernourished in Asia-Pacific Region

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Four U.N. specialized agencies warn that many parts of Asia and the Pacific suffer from alarmingly high levels of malnutrition and hunger. This is the first time the Food and Agriculture Organization, the U.N. Children’s Fund, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization have issued a joint report, which calls for urgent action to reverse the situation. The report finds efforts to reduce malnutrition and hunger have come to a virtual standstill in Asia and the Pacific. Unless greater effort is made to tackle this situation, it warns prospects for economic and social development in the region will be at serious risk. As of now, the U.N. agencies say many parts of Asia and the Pacific will not reach the U.N. sustainable goal of ending all forms of malnutrition and achieving zero hunger by 2030. The United Nations reports 821 million people globally suffer from hunger. World Food Program spokesman Herve Verhoosel said 62 percent of that number, or 509 million people, are in the Asia-Pacific region, with children, in particular, bearing the biggest burden. Verhoosel said 79 million children, or one in every four under age five, suffer from stunting, and 34 million children are wasting. He says 12 million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, which increases their risk of death. The report notes climate-related disasters are rising in the region, having a detrimental impact on agriculture. Loss of crops, it says, results in more hunger, more loss of nutrition and loss of livelihood. According to the report, climate-related losses in Asia between 2005 and 2015 amounted to a staggering $48 billion. Authors of the report say countries in the region must adapt agriculture so it's more resilient to extreme climate events, and to mitigate the damage from climate change.

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