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Unicef, WHO reports

Incredible numbers, those reported by two reports from Unicef, WHO and World Bank. Numbers that deserve an immediate and effective response from governments that translates into investments in programs that can help children live their lives well.

edited by Michele Gatta

Childhood malnutrition and obesity, and the increase in child labor: these are two issues that tell of a particularly unequal and overall unhealthy globalized world. 

The new data on the nutrition of children under five years of age released by the UN bodies UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank are quite merciless. In the world, the three organizations state, 149,2 million children under 5 years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition, 45,4 million from acute malnutrition (6,7%) - of which 13,6 million suffer from severe acute malnutrition - and 38,9 million (5,7%) children are overweight. Chronic malnutrition has been in stable decline since 2000 (from 33,1% to 22%), but progress is too slow, acute malnutrition persists at alarming rates (6,7%), while overweight is increasing slightly (since 5,4% in 2000 to 5,7% in 2020).

While as regards child labor there is an increase of 8,4 million children exploited throughout the world in the last 4 years. While between 2000 and 2016 there was a decrease of 94 million. There is a significant increase in working children between the ages of 5 and 11, who now make up over half of the total global figure. Many of these younger children forced into child labor do not go to school. A situation that could further worsen as the director of Unicef ​​explains: «Now in the second year of lockdown, school closures, economic difficulties and shrinkage of national budgets globally, families are forced to make painful choices. We call on governments and international development banks to prioritize investments in programs that can get children out of the workforce and back into school, and investments in social protection programs that can help families."

How to get out of it? There is little that can be done, we need adequate social protection for everyone, which includes universal family allowances and the guarantee of quality education that brings all children back to school. But we also need to promote decent jobs for adults, so that families don't have to use children in jobs to earn income. 

We must not forget that children are the first to suffer from poverty, exclusion, inequalities and conflicts. It is crucial to help countries strengthen and expand their social protection schemes, ensure the continuity of accessible and quality education, and ensure labor inspection capacity.

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