G8 Summit Neglects Global Crisis of Child Malnutrition

Action Against Hunger applauds the G8’s commitments on global hunger but urges immediate action on deadly malnutrition

Action Against Hunger applauds the announcement today that the world's leading powers will contribute $20 billion for agricultural assistance to millions of poor farmers over the next three years. The international humanitarian organization commends President Barack Obama for taking a leadership role in tackling hunger, which now affects more than a billion people worldwide, by enlisting the support of the major powers assembled at the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy.

Although the United States' individual contribution of $3.5 billion demonstrates a significant, long-term commitment to combating hunger, Action Against Hunger urges the Obama Administration not to overlook the immediate crisis of acute malnutrition.

While high-level discussions continue on solutions to the global economic and food crises, acute malnutrition takes a growing number of young lives. Even though the deadliest forms of acute malnutrition can be treated effectively, global efforts reach less than 10 percent of children needing assistance. As a result, as many as five million children die each year from causes related to malnutrition.

"President Obama sent a clear signal today that the United States is serious about addressing global hunger, which is an important first step," said Nan Dale, Executive Director of Action Against Hunger - USA. "But since the knowledge and tools to end acute malnutrition are readily available today, this Administration should take action now to end an entirely preventable tragedy."

Action Against Hunger urges President Obama to prioritize the fight against acute malnutrition. If we are to save the millions of children on the brink of starvation, funding is needed today to scale up existing programs. While the Administration works out how best to support poor farmers through agricultural support, it should immediately address the deadly, global crisis of acute malnutrition.

Action Against Hunger calls on government representatives, UN leaders, and institutional donors to commit $4 billion annually to close the malnutrition "treatment gap" by

  1. Treating all children with severe acute malnutrition by 2012;
  2. Ensuring nutrient-dense food aid for all malnourished children;
  3. Creating an international mechanism to coordinate global efforts to end acute malnutrition.

We must finally commit to ending hunger-related deaths. Acute malnutrition is predictable, cost-effective to treat, and simple to prevent; it's a tragedy that should not exist in the 21st century.