Malnutrition: ’The silent killer’
Date: 2016-07-25 16:27
Bara should weigh 7kg - but he is just half that.
His ribs can be seen protruding from the skin on his tiny chest, and he’s been without a proper supply of milk for months.
At a makeshift clinic in the eastern countryside of Syria’s Hama province, an area controlled by opposition forces trying to depose Assad, volunteer medics are trying everything to save the seven-month-old’s life.
But with his body extremely weak and frail due to long-term exposure to malnutrition, they say he will probably die.
Hundreds of deaths have been reported from preventable causes in the area, and medics say there are around 40 children in a similarly perilous condition to Bara.
Aid hardly reaches Hama, and when it does finally get through, products to treat hunger and malnutrition - such as peanut butter paste supplements - are not suitable for toddlers and babies.
"One of the reasons for malnutrition is that children are given goats milk," Mohammed Motair, a pediatrician in Hama, told Al-Jazeera.
As the fighting rages on around them, almost five million Syrians are not getting enough food, water or medicine, according to UNICEF.
The agency says children are dying every day from easily preventable diseases - and now drought is making things even worse.
The UN estimates that more than 500,000 Syrians are under siege but some groups, such as the Siege Watch Project, put that figure at more than one million.
The ongoing Syrian conflict started as a largely unarmed uprising against Assad in March 2011, but morphed into a full-blown conflict that has killed more than 250,000 people and turned more than 4.3 million others into refugees, according to statistics by the UN.
Parents call malnutrition “the silent killer” because they don’t realize the symptoms until it’s too late.