Hacer Foggo, founder of the Istanbul-based Deep Poverty Network, said in a recent interview that children in Turkey were disproportionately affected by poverty and in particular suffered from malnutrition.
Speaking to the Diken news website, Foggo said she had read a recent report prepared by the Turkish General Practitioners Journal which revealed that one in every four children was underweight. Moreover, anemia had become a serious problem affecting 85 percent of girls and 65 percent of boys.
“Anemia is a serious disease that has a direct impact on the physical well-being of children. What we see today is that nearly all girls, and the majority of boys under the age of 18, suffer from this disease,” she said.
Turkey is currently in the middle of an economic crisis as consumer prices accelerated to an annual rate of 61.14 percent in March, up from 54.4 percent in February.
Food and fuel prices have more than doubled in the last few months. An increasing number of Turks have complained on social media about rising electricity bills and falling into debt. Many have said even basic foods such as vegetables have become a luxury as prices have risen by nearly 400 percent.
“While doing field research in poor neighborhoods, I found that mothers did not have milk or age-appropriate baby food so they had to feed them whatever they had available. This is very dangerous for the baby’s health and can result in serious problems,” she added.
Despite increasing poverty, the government is ignoring the problems of those people who cannot access basic foods, according to Foggo.
She said the government needed to urgently address poverty and develop effective policies for children to access food. “Childhood diseases can have a long-term impact and become chronic,” Foggo said. “An unhealthy adult can’t work and therefore will be condemned to further poverty. The government needs to break this cycle with proper policies to tackle poverty as soon as possible.”
Emphasizing that poor children had to deal with hunger and stress, Foggo said this lowered their quality of life dramatically.