Save the Children and World Vision call for South East Asian countries to fight persistent child malnutrition crisis

Press Release  •  Sep 21, 2012 10:00 SGT

Save the Children and World Vision welcome South East Asian countries’ fight against child undernutrition, but warn that more progress is needed.

The two organisations launched a new Nutrition Barometer which assesses governments’ political, legal and financial commitments to tackling malnutrition in the 36 countries where 90% of the world’s undernourished children live.

Four of the five South East Asian countries included in the report – Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Philippines – are showing progress in fighting child undernutrition. The exception is Cambodia.

Worryingly, all of them except for Indonesia show weak political and financial commitments to tackle this hidden crisis. Relatively strong outcomes combined with weak commitments may be the result of rapid economic growth in some countries, with rising household incomes resulting in improved nutrition among the population generally.

But they remain among the 36 countries with a high burden of children undernutrition. These findings therefore may mask the existence of huge inequalities, where economic growth does not necessarily translate into improved nutrition for all children, especially those living in the poorest households.

“The Nutrition Barometer holds countries and donors accountable to their pledges to reduce child malnutrition, revealing that many South East Asian countries are still failing to fight against children undernutrition as a whole,” said Michel Anglade, Campaigns and Advocacy Director for Save the Children in Asia.

“These South East Asian countries need to invest more resources to reduce children undernutrition. Unless they act soon, millions of children in the region will become physically and mentally stunted in the years ahead, making it harder for them to break out of the poverty cycle.”

The charities are calling on these South East Asian leaders gathering in New York for the UN General Assembly summit to take urgent measures to tackle child undernutrition. They warn that unless promises are translated into swift action, the ambitious commitment made at the World Health Assembly earlier this year to reduce the number of stunted children by 40%, by 2025, will not be met.

All 36 countries featured in the barometer, including five South East Asian ones, accounting for 90% of the world’s undernourished children, are capable of saving millions of lives and reducing the number of stunted children by some 64 million by 2025. But this requires political will and commitments, followed by decisive action.

ENDS

To organise interviews or photographs/multimedia content, please call Lynette Lim (Asia Media Manager) at +65 91864946 or lynette.lim@savethechildren.org.

Link to report: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/node/2781

Notes to editors:
The Nutrition Barometer will be launched at the UNGA in New York on Wednesday, 26 September, at 8am at Sentry Centers (730 3rd Ave). This event will be co-hosted by Save the Children CEO Jasmine Whitbread and World Vision CEO Kevin Jenkins.

The Nutrition Barometer aims to provide a snapshot of national governments’ commitments and progress in addressing children’s nutrition. It builds on existing indices such as the Global Hunger Index (GHI) produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Hunger Reduction Commitment Index (HRCI) released by the Institute of Development Studies. It analyses commitments made by each country’s government to fight undernutrition and attempts to understand how these commitments move with children’s nutrition status.

The figure of 36 countries accounting for 90% of the world’s malnourished children being able to reduce the number of stunted children by some 64 million by 2025 comes from research carried out by Save the Children.

Save the Children works in 120 countries. We save children's lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfil their potential.

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