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May 9

Not enough is being done to combat malnutrition - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

"Although malnutrition is the underlying cause of a third of child deaths, it has not received the same high-profile campaigning and investment as other causes of child mortality, such as HIV/AIDS or malaria. This has meant that while the child mortality rate from malaria has been cut by a third since 2000, child malnutrition rates in Africa have decreased by less than 0.3 per cent.

Yet the costs - both in human and economic terms - are huge. Pervasive long-term malnutrition erodes the foundations of the global economy by destroying the potential of millions of children. The direct cost of malnutrition is estimated at $20 to $30 billion per year and children stunted from malnutrition are predicted to earn an average of 20 per cent less when they become adults. It is estimated that two to three per cent of a country’s national income can be lost to malnutrition.

Al Jazeera interviews Ertharin Cousin
from the UN World Food Programme

Research is clear about what needs to be done. A package of basic measures - including fortifying basic foods with essential minerals or vitamins, encouraging exclusive breastfeeding for children up to six months of age, and better investment in cash transfers with payments targeted at the poorest families - can turn the tide on malnutrition and reduce vulnerability to food price spikes.”