Mr Palm's address during the Nutrition workshop on 11 May 2010
National partners commit to improve nutrition status of children and women in Albania. In cooperation with Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Consumer Protection, the United Nations (UNICEF, WHO, FAO) is implementing a joint programme on Child Food Security and Nutrition targeting malnutrition among high risk child groups. The programme is funded by the UN-Spain Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund.
Many speakers talked about the alarming statistics of poor nutrition among Albania’s children. Every child has the right to a protective environment, with a healthy diet and enough to eat. Good nutrition allows a child to develop its full potential. Malnutrition in children is likely to cause - among many other things - poor school performance, less productivity as an adult, and a higher risk of disease. Albania, on its way to Europe, cannot afford to leave so many children behind. The good news is that Albania can overcome malnutrition. I am hugely encouraged to see the commitment of government and many other partners to do something about it.
Malnutrition in children is not only caused by the lack of food. It might be caused by inadequate feeding practices, for example lack of breastfeeding or inappropriate diets. Malnutrition is also caused by the lack of education, inadequate care, ignorance or simply having the wrong priorities. Therefore, the fight against malnutrition must be everybody's concern: parents, health workers, nurses, teachers, social workers, agricultural extension workers, the Ministry of Finance and legislators. Malnutrition will not go away unless everyone plays his part.
I hope that the work supported by the United Nations will eventually be supported by government budget allocations that focus on the most vulnerable. Economists agree that 5 out of 10 most effective development interventions are related to nutrition. And investments in children bring the biggest returns.
We, UNICEF and other involved UN agencies pledge to support government in eliminating malnutrition in Albania. We look forward to swift and decisive action. Together, we can ensure that the rights of Albania’s children are fulfilled. Thank you.