SUBMITTED TO: WHO
SUBJECT: Infant and Child Nutrition
Proper nutrition for children is an issue affecting Madagascar (as well as much of the rest of Africa) very strongly at the moment. Stunted growth due to malnutrition affects nearly half (roughly 47%) of all children in Madagascar. Severe acute malnutrition affects roughly 8% of Malagasy people under the age of 5. Malnutrition has effects on a person for the rest of their life, and changes everything from physical development and growth to intellectual maturation. Madagascar is currently the 7th-most malnourished country on Earth, and it’s not just children being affected; that applies across all people. Much has been done to combat malnutrition in Madagascar and around the world recently, but clearly more still must be done before we can consider this issue solved. It will take many years to reverse the effects, but it can be done.
Although this is not only an issue affecting children, it is most detrimental to kids. UNICEF and WHO as a whole have been hard at work to solve the issue for a very long time, and it is still a major issue but it is getting better with time. A study done in 2015 by NYU’s School of Medicine found that some of the largest barriers to proper nutrition were money and access, as well as general unawareness of nutritional needs for a child, and an insufficient variety of foods. Many families in Madagascar grow their own food, which is one of the biggest factors in all of these barriers. As of right now, UNICEF is already working on increasing awareness not only among citizens but among the government too. They are working towards very fast responses to crises, as well as going out into the community and assisting mothers and children with awareness of issues. However, these solutions have still not been implemented everywhere (examples provided above are being used in Madagascar). We believe malnutrition is devastating to everyone, and more should still be done to assist malnourished children the world over.
According to the official UNICEF website, “A group of leading economists, the Copenhagen Consensus, has consistently confirmed that taking action on undernutrition is the single most important, cost-effective means of advancing human well-being.” Malnutrition is one of the most pressing issues on the world, and much can be done to assist those suffering from it. The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement is doing good work bringing awareness to the issue, but this initiative is still only 10 years old. We believe that a successful solution will include not only increased awareness among mothers and children, but also direct assistance for those who have no way of getting healthy foods on their own. The barriers mentioned in the previous paragraph apply to many malnourished families, and in order to fix them, merely talking about the issue will not be enough. Direct action must be taken to get families the nutrition they need. We are not by any means arguing that awareness campaigns are not a solution; they can be and are very effective. Some aspects of malnutrition can be solved more easily. UNICEF cites breastfeeding as “the closest thing the world has to a magic bullet for child survival”. Awareness of this fact has not yet spread to much of the world, and so malnutrition is still a large issue.
We hope that this committee will be very productive on this issue, and that much advancement can be made on this very pressing matter. Many solutions are already in the works (or currently being carried out), but more can still be done.
- Gavin Warner