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UNICEF mourns loss of Rainer Gross, a tireless advocate for child nutrition

© UNICEF video
Born 28 September 1945, Dr. Rainer Gross served as UNICEF’s Chief of Nutrition from 14 April 2002 until his death on 30 September 2006.

By Tim Ledwith

NEW YORK, USA, 3 October 2006 – UNICEF is mourning the untimely loss of its Chief of Nutrition, Dr. Rainer Gross, 61, who died on 30 September.

Dr. Gross, a German national, joined UNICEF in April 2002 at the organization’s New York headquarters. His leadership was key in developing UNICEF’s global health and nutrition strategy.

Widely respected as an authority in his field, Dr. Gross specialized in a number of areas, including undernutrition in emergencies and the delivery of micronutrients. He was known as a tireless advocate who would not let the world forget about the ongoing ‘silent emergency’ of undernutrition and its complex causes – including not only food shortages but also access to education, health care and economic opportunity.

“We should remember that still, about 900 million people do not have enough food,” he said on World Food Day last year. “For us, living in better economic social situations, we tend to forget that. UNICEF has to continue to tell all parts of society, worldwide, and all nations, that there's a right to food – and particularly for those who are most vulnerable."

© UNICEF India/2004
UNICEF Chief of Nutrition Rainer Gross (centre) takes part in a ceremony during a 2004 visit to Tamil Nadu, India. The head of UNICEF India's child development and nutrition programme, Werner Schultink, is at right.

Passion and determination

Last May, in what would be one of his last major projects, Dr. Gross was the moving force behind the landmark UNICEF report, ‘Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition’. Despite some gains in child nutrition since 1990, the report found, more than one child in four in the developing world is undernourished.

“We are far off course,” Dr. Gross said at the time, referring to the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. But with characteristic passion and determination, he added that the goal could be achieved with the right combination of resources and political will. “It is possible still if there is real commitment,” he said.

Before joining UNICEF, Dr. Gross was a senior nutrition adviser for the German Government. In a career spanning three decades, he also worked as a researcher, advisor and leader at health and nutrition programmes around the world. He served stints in the field in Indonesia, Brazil and Peru, and was going to retire to the latter country following his planned retirement next year.

Dr. Gross is survived by his wife Ulla, his son Patrick, his daughter Kerstin and three grandchildren. The family asks that any donations in memory of Dr. Gross be made to UNICEF.




In May 2006, UNICEF's Chief of Nutrition, Rainer Gross, talked about one of his last major projects, 'Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition'.
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Tribute donations

Contributions in memory of Dr. Rainer Gross can be made to support UNICEF's worldwide programmes through the German National Committee for UNICEF.
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