Paris, 15 May 2013: Funding nutrition: a moral imperative, an effective investment
PARIS, 15 May 2013 – An international conference to fight child malnutrition called by UNICEF ended today in Paris with a call to hasten world progress on child nutrition and the funding for it.
“The Paris conference produced a very strong consensus on responses to be made. It also marked an important step in expressing the political will to attack this scourge by governments, both in the South and the North,” said Michèle Barzach, the President of UNICEF France.
“That must now be translated into the large-scale implementation of strategies that have proven their effectiveness, and into mobilizing the needed resources.”
“It is essential to invest in preventing malnutrition to strengthen the resilience of families, communities and societies, and to break the cycle of food and nutritional crises,” said Yoka Brandt, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director.
“By attacking malnutrition, we act directly on development priorities: the fight against poverty, for education and for equality. Less than two years before the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, we must speed up our efforts and put the fight against malnutrition at the heart of the post-2015 agenda.”
The meeting agreed it was urgent that governments in countries affected by child malnutrition accelerate the implementation of proactive, multi-sectoral and decentralized public policies with the clear objective of reducing the prevalence of malnutrition among children.
Integration of maternal and child nutrition in health and social protection policies was vital to success – as examples presented at the conference showed. Ministers and parliamentarians from sub-Saharan Africa made concrete public commitments at the meeting to take national action.
Governments in the North must make further concrete commitments, the conference was told. Emergency responses and emergency funding were no longer enough for the fight against malnutrition. Mobilizing sustainable, long-term resources is indispensable, participants agreed.
A few weeks before the G8 summit, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs granted €30 million – the proceeds of its new tax on financial transactions – to promote the health of children in the Sahel, with a special emphasis on nutrition.
“In our view, this initiative is a first step that should inspire other States,” Ms. Barzach said. “The French government has chosen to draw on a mechanism based on financial transactions. That is not the only possible path. It is up to each country to find and implement the best mechanism for sustainable funding.”
The conference stressed that giving child nutrition the resources it needs was a moral imperative to save the lives of millions of children. But it was also an effective investment socially and economically.
The total of €3 billion needed each year for Africa to combat child malnutrition fully would in the first year alone allow 22 million young African children to escape chronic malnutrition.
In June 2012, the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States with UNICEF launched a global roadmap to end preventable deaths of children under the age of five. Since then, under the banner of Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, more than 170 countries have signed up and renewed their commitment to child survival.
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