Not by food alone: UNICEF urges action against malnutrition | Press centre | UNICEF

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Press centre

Press release

Not by food alone: UNICEF urges action against malnutrition

ROME, 11 June 2002 - UNICEF said today that global success in lowering child malnutrition could only be achieved through comprehensive action on numerous fronts - including many not directly related to food.

Speaking today at the World Food Summit: Five Years Later, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kul C. Gautam said that child malnutrition must be fought through measures that include enhancing household food security, improving basic health care, and ensuring safe water and decent sanitation for hundreds of millions of people who are still without these basic services.

"The world produces enough food to feed every man, woman and child on earth. Hunger and malnutrition are therefore not due to lack of food alone, but are also the consequences of poverty, inequality and misplaced priorities," Gautam said. He said efforts to reduce global malnutrition must start with children, on whom poor nutrition has the most damaging and lasting effects.

Gautam stressed that child malnutrition is best addressed by taking a holistic, life-cycle approach, ensuring that all children are born healthy and are properly cared for in their earliest years, and that primary health care and basic education are provided in all communities.

UNICEF said that significant gains could be made in human potential by tapping the power of simple micronutrients such as iodine, vitamin A and iron. These key micronutrients are necessary for cognitive development, better school performance, and work productivity.

While the past decade has seen progress toward universal salt iodization to reduce iodine deficiency and the distribution of supplements to reduce vitamin A deficiency in young children, reducing the dangerous effects of iron deficiency anaemia in women and children has lagged far behind. Iron deficiency anaemia is the single most prevalent cause of micronutrient malnutrition in the world, affecting more than two billion people.

UNICEF also promotes integrated support to breastfeeding, investing in girls, women and young people to strengthen their roles as providers of nutrition security, and stepping up efforts to address the critical nutritional needs of communities devastated by HIV/AIDS, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, which faces the triple burden of chronic food insecurity, a weakened labour force, and the increased nutritional needs created by the pandemic.

For further information, contact:

Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media, New York, ++ 212) 326-7261

Donata Lodi, Italian Committee for UNICEF: (39) 06- 4789287





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