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Friday 28th October 2016

UNICEF reports undernutrition

2nd May 2006

02052006_child&baby1.jpgThe international community has promised to halve the number of children who are underweight by 2015. But ‘Progress for Children: A Report Card on Nutrition’, warns that unless the world takes action, that Millennium Development Goal will not be reached.

The worldwide study released by UNICEF reveals that some 5.6 million children die every year in part because they are not getting enough of the right nutrients. And 146 million children are at risk from dying early because they are underweight.

Undernutrition stunts children’s growth and development and, in girls, their later ability to bear healthy children. It is the result of insufficient food intake, repeated infectious diseases and lack of care.

UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said that undernutrition contributes significantly to a cycle of poverty. 'It hurts children in their ability to learn, their ability to develop and their ability to resist serious diseases' she concluded.

The report on nutrition is the fourth in a UNICEF series that monitors how well nations are keeping their promises to improve children’s lives. It shows that half of the world’s underweight children live in South Asia, while China is leading the way in reducing undernutrition in East Asia. It says slow progress is being made in West and Central Africa.  However in the Middle East, populous countries such as Iraq and Sudan are slipping backwards.

The report states that if governments make nutrition a priority, it will be possible to reduce the number of undernourished children; great progress has already been made through a number of proven strategies:

Vitamin A supplements have saved hundred of thousands of children’s lives, and some 82 million newborns are protected from iodine deficiency every year, thanks to campaigns to iodize salt. Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of infancy is one of the simplest and most effective ways to save a child’s life.

Ms. Veneman marks her first year as UNICEF Executive Director this week, she has also has been appointed as Chair of the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition. She says she is 'certain that we can make swift advances in a very short time', adding 'the goal could not be greater – a world in which children live free from poverty, free from hunger.'

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