BANGKOK (AlertNet) – Countries with the highest numbers of malnourished children urgently need to step up the way they respond to the problem in order to prevent millions of unnecessary deaths, according to a joint report produced by charities Save the Children and World Vision.
The “Nutrition Barometer”, which provides a snapshot of national governments’ commitments to addressing children’s nutrition, found that of 36 countries, where 90 percent of the world’s malnourished children live, almost a quarter have shown little progress in tackling the crisis.
Without swift action, a commitment made in May 2012 by the World Health Assembly – the decision making body of the World Health Organization – to reduce the number of chronically malnourished children by 40 percent by 2025 would not be achieved, the report warned, urging world leaders gathering in New York for the U.N. General Assembly meeting to tackle the issue.
India, despite experiencing strong economic growth in the past few years, shares the bottom rank – countries defined by the study as having low levels of political, legal and financial commitment and little changes to the high rates of malnutrition – with Democratic Republic of Congo and Yemen.
These three countries, together with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Niger, Ethiopia and Madagascar, also have the worst nutrition and child survival outcomes, the report said.
While malnutrition itself may not kill children, it is the underlying cause of the deaths of 2.3 million children under five years in 2011 – more than a third of the total, the report said.
Peru, Guatemala and Malawi were applauded for topping the list, with political will and committed resources to fight child malnutrition achieving results.