The high incidence of malnutrition in northern Syria, especially for children, is a major problem for the medical sector. The region’s health centers currently receive many cases of malnutrition every day, with most affected children being displaced camp residents. In the camps, the children face difficult living conditions due to high prices and low-income levels.
Nutritionist Nisreen Manna, who works as a supervisor for community health workers at an Idleb health center, noted that Idleb city has witnessed a rise in malnutrition. In an interview with SY-24, she said: “Malnutrition occurs when the body does not get the basic nutrients it needs, such as vitamins, proteins, and minerals necessary for the body’s growth. Malnutrition may occur due to poor absorption of nutrients, even if food is available.”
The dietitian attributed the rise in malnutrition cases to social causes, such as poverty and displacement. She also identified pathological causes that may affect the digestive system, including intestinal inflammation, which leads to anorexia and the body’s inability to absorb necessary food intake levels.
“Health centers provide appropriate treatment for each stage of malnutrition by providing both mother and child with appropriate supplements periodically until their conditions start to improve,” says Manna.
Mohammed Hussein and his family live on the food items that he receives from the monthly basket in a camp in Deir Hassan area. Hussein relies on the food aid baskets after he was hit by shrapnel, which kept him out of work and confined him to bed.
“I have three children who do not have the food intake necessary for their growth and development. Our food supplies do not go beyond the contents of food baskets, such as rice, bulgur, and pasta; while, in reality, a child needs meat, milk, and eggs as well. We have not been able to access these foods since we were displaced from rural Homs several years ago,” he tells SY-24.
Two of Mohammed’s children became ill with malnutrition and reached a critical stage, he said. Both children were taken to a health center for treatment after their condition became worse.
In 2019, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated in the organization’s food security report that 19,000 Syrian children under the age of five were at risk of dying from malnutrition in Syria.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.