Freelance for The New York Times
"Afghanistan's Worsening Hunger Crisis"
8-month-old Samiullah, suffering from what doctors call Marasmus, another sign of advanced malnutrition in which the child's face looks like that of a wrinkled old man because skin hangs on it so loosely, is held by his mother Islam Bibi, 15, from Marjah district, as they receive treatment on a plastic mattress in an administrative office, due to overcrowding in the Inpatient Therapeutic Feeding Centre (ITFC) wards, at the Bost Hospital, a Medecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) assisted hospital, on September 23, 2013 in Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Afghanistan is experiencing a rise in malnutrition cases across the country. The Bost hospital in Lashkar Gah, the capital of war-torn Helmand Province have been registering significant increases in severe malnutrition among children. Countrywide, such cases have increased 50 percent or more compared with 2012, according to U.N. figures. Reasons for the increase remain uncertain, or in dispute. Most doctors and aid workers agree that continuing war and refugee displacement are contributing factors. Some believe that the growing number of child patients may be at least partly a good sign, as more poor Afghans are hearing about treatment available to them. Despite years of Western involvement and billions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, children's health is not only still a problem, but also worsening.