High-level political and private sector officials met in New York today to fight childhood under-nutrition with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressing the critical role of proper early feeding in combating extreme hunger and poverty.
“Under-nourished children are more likely to get sick. They cannot concentrate in school and often earn less as adults. They pay the price throughout their lives,” he said, opening the forum, called 1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future.
The forum was held in Manhattan on the margins of a three-day summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that seek to slash a host of social ills, from hunger and poverty to infant and maternal mortality to lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.
“Poor women do not eat enough nutrient-rich foods in pregnancy, nor are such foods readily available to their new-born children. Furthermore, women who are poor can often be too busy working in the fields and markets to breastfeed or provide the care a baby needs.”
Mr. Ban cited two new initiatives, the SUN Road Map for Scaling Up Nutrition, and the Thousand Day Movement, a nutritional programme extending from the start of each pregnancy until a child reaches the age of two.
“I strongly support both initiatives. They can help us to make significant headway on MDG-1,” he said, referring to the goal that combats hunger and poverty. “Let us work to expand the pool of donors, and increase the resources that are available.”
The programmes are extremely cost-effective and prioritize the interests of women and the importance of nutritious diets for mothers and babies, he added.
“If overall development policies are sensitive to the importance of the thousand day window, we can make a big difference to under-nutrition,” he declared, noting that the SUN Framework has been endorsed by more than 100 key stakeholders.
“It gives us a unique opportunity to bring the SUN into young lives everywhere,” he added. “SUN shines the light on our most precious and vulnerable resource.”
Those attending the meeting included United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin, Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping, several non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders, including Concern Worldwide Chief Executive Officer Chief Executive Officer and Bread for the World President David Beckmann, and business leaders such as Coca-Cola President Muhtar Kent and Nike Foundation President Maria Eitel.