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Aid Organizations welcome ECOWAS Health Ministers call to intensify fight against malnutrition

Dakar, Senegal, 25 August 2009- A broad Alliance of aid organizations, collaborating to combat malnutrition in West Africa, welcomes the new ECOWAS Assembly of Health Ministers nutrition resolution that calls for Governments to intensify their efforts in the fight against child malnutrition.

This resolution builds on the 2006 ECOWAS Assembly of Health Ministers resolution calling for the fortification with essential vitamins and minerals of processed foods such as cooking oil and flour, and adds to a growing list of regional nutrition policies on interventions known to be effective in saving lives.

Malnutrition is the underlying cause of up to 50% of deaths of children under5 in the region, and is a key factor limiting development as it impacts on the mental and physical development of generations of children.

Although there has been a considerable stepping up of nutrition interventions over the past two years, Health Ministers at their Assembly last month in Côte d’Ivoire adopted a resolution calling for additional effort in specific areas.

The priorities include the need to address a chronic shortage of qualified human resources for public health nutrition, to push coverage of vitamin A supplementation to beyond 80%, and to intensify the promotion of appropriate infant and young child feeding practices, such as exclusively breastfeeding infants 0-6 months olds of age and ensuring access to age-appropriate foods for young children.

"This is official recognition that we cannot rest on our results to date, and need to scale-up efforts to deliver essential nutrition interventions to every child in the region," said Bakari Saidou of the Alliance.

"Budgets are constrained this year, but this is a clear statement of intent that places child nutrition at the heart of the development agenda in these countries, and a priority for investment."

For more information please contact:
Sergio Cooper Teixeira, Alliance Facilitator, Tel : +221 33 869 76 53, Email : steixeira@unicef.org

This Alliance brings together organizations collaborating to combat malnutrition in the region, and includes FAO, HKI, Save the Children UK, The Micronutrient Initiative, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO

 

 
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