Media advisory: Making the fight against child malnutrition a global priority
Escaping ‘emergency’ thinking in order to strengthen resilience
PARIS, May 8, 2013 – On 14-15 May, UNICEF welcomes 400 participants from over 40 countries to the International Conference Against Child Malnutrition in Paris. Organized in partnership with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French Development Agency, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Action Against Hunger, Doctors without Borders and the NGO Alliance for International Medical Action, the aim of this mobilizing conference is to make malnutrition a global priority and put it at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.
According to Michèle Barzach, President of UNICEF France: “UNICEF is contributing to a much-needed paradigm shift: malnutrition is not pre-destined, and solutions do exist to curb it. Our intention is to mobilize political will to implement these solutions, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa.”
A few weeks before the G8 summit in the United Kingdom on food security, nutrition and growth, the Paris conference on child nutrition has three main objectives: 1) to mobilize States, donors and international organizations to scale up strategies that have proven effective; 2) to advocate for the integration of nutrition in public health policies, social protection policy and development policy; and 3) to promote stronger and lasting funding for the interventions that are most effective against malnutrition.
“We must no longer be satisfied with emergency responses to child malnutrition. To combat malnutrition effectively over time, we must strengthen the capacity for resilience of the people and countries that are affected,” Ms. Barzach said.
Responsible for one-third of child mortality, and chronically affecting 165 million children worldwide, stunting or low height for age is not only a human catastrophe, but also a major brake on development. By reducing the physical and cognitive capacities of individuals, it reduces productivity, impedes economic growth and perpetuates the cycle of poverty.
Bringing together 30 sub-Saharan African countries, principal donor countries, the European Union, international organizations, renowned international experts, major on-the-ground actors and representatives of civil society, the Paris conference focuses on solutions to accelerate the fight against malnutrition.
The event comes a month after the publication of a key UNICEF report on chronic malnutrition, Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress. Improving nutrition is a necessary condition for development, and a global imperative that is within reach.
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