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AFRICA RECOVERY. 1998 Feb; 11(3):3.According to The State of the World's Children 1998 by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), malnutrition constitutes a global “silent emergency”, killing millions every year and sapping the long-term economic vitality of nations. Poverty as well as an insidious combination of simple ignorance and prejudice against women is the cause. Malnutrition also perpetuates a generational cycle of poverty and may pose heavy future burdens to societies. Tackling the problem requires the active involvement of families and communities, as well as political will at the national and international levels. In this perspective, UNICEF urges intensive efforts by governments to counter the scourge, which it also regards as a violation of children's rights. At the international level, donors and recipient countries need to earmark funds for essential social services. UNICEF also calls for deeper debt reduction to enable poor countries to channel their resources to meeting the basic needs of their people.