Friday, September 21, 2012

New report finds little political will to fight child malnutrition

You will often see reports released at the same time that important international meetings take place. With the U.N. General assembly going on now in New York, we can expect to see quite a few of them in the upcoming days. The groups issuing the reports hope to sway some of the discussion at the meeting.

We often link to the reports focusing on development aid, and a very important one was released today. The charities Save the Children and World Vision have issued a report on the rates of child malnutrition across the globe.

According to the report titled "Nutrition Barometer" 36 countries contain 90 percent of the world's malnourished children. The report finds that there is often very little political or legal commitment to improving the health of children in those 36 countries.

The "Nutrition Barometer" can be downloaded from here at the Save The Children website. From Reuters Alert Net, writer Thin Lei Win gives us this summary.
India, despite experiencing strong economic growth in the past few years, shares the bottom rank – countries defined by the study as having low levels of political, legal and financial commitment and little changes to the high rates of malnutrition – with Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen.
These three countries, together with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Niger, Ethiopia and Madagascar, also have the worst nutrition and child survival outcomes, the report said.
While malnutrition itself may not kill children, it is the underlying cause of the deaths of 2.3 million children under five years in 2011 – more than a third of the total, the report said.
Peru, Guatemala and Malawi were applauded for topping the list, with political will and committed resources to fight child malnutrition achieving results.  
Despite the overall positive trend of child survival, including nearly halving the number of children dying before their fifth birthday between 1990 and 2011, “progress in reducing childhood under nutrition has been slow,” the report said.
“Rates of stunting are falling too slowly, and the proportion of wasted children (suffering acute weight loss) actually rose during the last decade,” it added.
“Malnutrition remains a critical problem and it’s a very complex problem,” Michel Anglade, Save the Children’s director for campaigns and advocacy in Asia, told AlertNet.

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