Funding nutrition: a moral imperative, an effective investment
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
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.
Malnutrition contributes to 30 per cent of child mortality, and in its chronic form affects 165 million children. It is a major obstacle to children's survival and growth, as well as to the development of countries, and to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
For further information, please contact:
Indra Kumari Nadchatram,
UNICEF Media, Malaysia
(+6.03) 2095 9157
+6012 292 6872
UNICEF Media, Malaysia
(+6.03) 2095 9154 ext. 2236
+6012 658 5160