Rwandan children and children of other African nations alike have been detrimentally affected by malnutrition. Throughout the world, we are seeing an inadequate amount of nutrients being consumed by our youth which is leading to malnutrition and, in severe cases, stunting. Every single country is affected by one or more of these issues. We have seen trepidation regarding infant and child nutrition cascade through generations. As the United Nations, we must come together and create a well devised plan to lower the number of children with malnutrition and increase access to nutrients for our youth.
The Republic of Rwanda has made exceptional advances in combating malnutrition considering the hardships of rebuilding our economy. Stunting has diminished in our country from 44% in 2010 to 38% in 2015. Still, around 800,000 of our 0-5 year olds are stunted.
One way we have taken steps towards improving nutrition for infants and children is holding our biannual Mother and Child Health Week. This week is intended to improve the health of mothers and their children by providing supplements for breastfeeding mothers, detecting malnutrition among kids under five, along with other positive promotions for the betterment of motherhood and childhood. Millions of children were helped during these weeks, but along with these children, there are millions of children around the world that need proper nutrients and education on healthy eating.
Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) is a for-profit project that we and 60 other nations have joined to end malnutrition. Their focus is to bring light to the importance of nutrition on a universal scale. A partner of SUN, Africa Improved Foods (AIF), has helped Rwanda by devoting their attention to agriculture and local food manufacturing work. They have reached 2 million Rwandan children suffering from malnutrition and/or stunting. Although SUN is a for-profit, they have given countless favors to communities and provide an opportunity for countries to collaborate and unite. They are working with upwards of 3,000 organizations, including 5 United Nations Agencies. AIF is a public-private partnership with the Rwandan Government and any profit made above basic commercial return is given to the Rwandan Government to help with nutritional programs. Profit is neither of these organizations motive, but without an income they would not be able to provide sufficient help.
As UNICEF puts it, “good nutrition is the bedrock of child survival”. The mortifying fact that 45% of child deaths are due to undernutrition shows how important it is to decrease-and eventually nullify-this percent. Many organizations are strong advocates for stressing the fact that the first 1000 days of a child’s life are vital for their future health. Our efforts are a step in the right direction, but are not enough to end undernutrition. The WHO has two successful departments, the Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, which should be called upon in committee to promote education in countries with a high percent of infants and children that suffer from malnutrition as well as countries with high obesity rates within their youth. A goal of ours that is very attainable is to turn our biannual Women and Child Health Week into a biannual Universal Women and Child Health Week. African nations should be encouraged to work with AIF to devise a sustainable agricultural plan to provide nutritious foods for infants and children. We should look favorably upon using the ideals that SUN has to offer to guide us in devising our plan to battle infant and child malnutrition.
Infant and Child Nutrition has polarizing sides in our world: malnutrition and obesity. Both are heavily influenced by a lack of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients necessary for healthy development. We believe that in order to successfully design the most effective and long-lasting resolutions our committee must devise two resolutions: one that focuses on combating malnutrition, and one that will fight for an end to obesity. With our scarce time in committee it is only reasonable that we make use of the time we have and efficiently create two resolutions that are clear for each subject instead of one vague, limited resolution that will not have as great of an impact considering some countries are dealing with malnutrition more severely than obesity and vice versa. Rwanda looks forward to leading the committee in a powerful and measured way by putting our full focus towards the realization of our planned malnutrition resolution and working with our allies around the globe that have also been impacted by child growth stunting to stand as a united front in combating infant and child malnutrition.
- Athena Barrer