Malnutrition In Vanuatu Is A Slow Acting Disaster Taking Children's Lives

It's the single biggest contributor to child mortality in the Pacific.

19/05/2016 1:00 AM AEST | Updated 25/07/2016 12:42 PM AEST

*Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the figure of children with stunted nutrition in Vanuatu as 78 percent. HuffPost Australia acknowledges this statistic is wrong and was not based on any figures provided by Save the Children. ​

Just over a year ago Cyclone Pam decimated the Pacific Island of Vanuatu.

As the country continues to rebuild, it is now also dealing with the effects of drought driven by El Nino -- the dry conditions stunting the growth of crops and availability of food, leading to severe acute malnutrition amongst the islands children.

Twenty eight per cent of children in Vanuatu have stunted nutrition, in a situation now being described as a "slow acting disaster".

"The Pacific has some of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the world, posing a major impediment to development across the region," said Dr Lisa Bonadonna, head of the GSK-Save The Children partnership, working for GSK.

Vanuatu is the world's most disaster-prone country, and stunted nutrition is the biggest contributor to child mortality in the region.

To combat the damage of widespread stunted nutrition, Save The Children and GSK have teamed up and created Emergency Health Units and mobile clinics to provide nutrition support to children in need.

The initiative is a part of a wider program provided by the Australian government under the Humanitarian Partnership Agreement.

"Malnutrition in 2016 is unacceptable. No child's survival or development should be threatened by a condition that is entirely preventable, Dr Bonadonna said.

"And we need to continue supporting our neighbours in the Pacific long after the El Nino weather pattern has passed."

Continued support is needed to end
stunted nutrition in the region. To find out more head to Save The Children's website here.

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