By Thin Lei Win
BANGKOK (AlertNet) – Aid workers in areas recovering from Typhoon Bopha have seen an increase in severely malnourished children, the United Nations said in its latest report on the disaster which hit the southern Philippines island of Mindanao on Dec 4.
Nearly 67,000 children under five and 28,700 pregnant and breastfeeding women are at risk of developing malnutrition as a result of the storm, the report said.
Aid workers found cases of severe acute malnutrition among children in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, two provinces hit hardest by the storm, had nearly doubled from fewer than 80 on Jan. 21 to 148 on Feb 4.
Cases of moderate acute malnutrition jumped from fewer than 40 to nearly 450 in the same period.
Aid workers are also seeing an increase in the number of severely malnourished children admitted to hospital, a sign that not all cases are being identified in the screening process, the report said.
And hunger levels are likely to worsen in the coming weeks and months, particularly in Davao Oriental, unless families receive more help, the report said.
Bopha was the 16th and most intense storm to hit the disaster-prone Philippines in 2012.
It flooded farms and mining towns and buried people in mudslides. Nearly 2,000 people are dead or missing and more than 230,000 houses were damaged or destroyed.
Most of the affected families are still living in their damaged homes or in makeshift shelters, but the majority have not received any help to repair their homes because funding has dried up, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in early February.
The revised U.N. appeal for $76 million is only 38 percent covered, with a shortfall of $47 million. The International Committee of the Red Cross launched a separate appeal for $32 million on Feb 12.
The storm also destroyed the health infrastructure, from small village aid posts to provincial hospitals.
Aid agencies have been helping to fill the gap and some of the hospitals are now back up and running but the lack of capacity remains a challenge.