|Tasleem Mondy pours a cup of fortified milk, providing treatment for her undernourished 18-month-old son, Mohammed, at their home in Karachi, Pakistan.|
NEW YORK, 11 November 2009 - According to a new nutrition report released by UNICEF today titled ‘Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Development,’ the bulk of the world’s undenutrition problem is localized. 24 countries account for more than 80 per cent of the global burden of chronic undernutrition.
Good nutrition is essential for achieving all Millennium Development Goals, from eradicating poverty to making sure that children can go to school, and from reducing maternal mortality to combating major diseases.
Providing essential vitamins and minerals,(in particular, Vitamin A, iodine, iron, zinc, and folate) also known as micronutrients, either through supplementation or food fortification, is a proven solution that costs just a few cents saving lives and helping children grow to be healthy and strong. The cost benefit ratio of micronutrient programming is unmatched by any other large-scale health or economic intervention. Research by leading health economists has determined that every dollar spent on vitamin A and zinc supplementation programs creates benefits worth more than $17.
A malnourished mother is likely to give birth to a malnourished baby and thus perpetuate the generational cycle of undernourishment. Gender equality, education and increased status of women all play a role in reducing childhood deaths from undernutirion as well as providing girls with the best start in life.
This year as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), we must not forget the fundamental right of all children to attain the highest standard of health and specifically the right to good nutrition.
Acting today will prevent problems from escalating tomorrow.