Medics aim to screen thousands of Gaza children for malnutrition

Palestinian children wait with family members at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 24, 2024 (Bashar TALEB / AFP)
Palestinian children wait with family members at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on June 24, 2024 (Bashar TALEB / AFP)

Medics in Gaza say they are 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 5 years old as part of a “Find and Treat” campaign, one of its doctors, Mumawwar Said, tells 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 says. “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 centers in the southern city of Rafah due to insecurity.

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.

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 with Hamas’s attack on Oct. 7.

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