Political Will a Must to End Child Malnutrition

October 27, 2011

While the issue of child malnutrition is mostly brought to the international spotlight via images of children in Africa, it is a global problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malnutrition is the largest contributor to global child mortality. It is the cause of one-third of child deaths, which amounts to some 15 million children dying of hunger each year. According to UNICEF, 21,000 children die everyday. While it is rarely thought of as a Latin American problem, malnutrition is prominent in much of Central America, most notably El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. There, chronic child malnutrition is as prevalent as it is in Africa or South Asia.

Care and Action Against Hunger/Action Contre le Faim, together with researchers from the Oakland Institute in the US, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in the UK and Spain’s Tripode Proyectos recently published the report, Under Nutrition: What Works?: A review of policy and practice. The report looked at countries who had significant success in decreasing malnutrition. They found that countries with a political will and leadership commitment in addition to citizens prepared to lobby for the cause, that took a multi-sector approach, by “tackling poverty in a wider sense, not just malnutrition alone, and often using cash transfers and social protection programs to do it,” had the highest sustainable success. These countries also found success by increasing the communication 0f governmental departments and NGOs, encouraging them to work together and end program duplication, thereby increasing resources.