DFID to launch new drive against malnutrition in poor countries

KATHMANDU: The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has said that it is launching a new fight against malnutrition, focusing on six countries, including Nepal that are home to half of all undernourished children under five years in the world. Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria and Zimbabwe are other beneficiary countries.

According to DFID, the new strategy will address the devastating impact that malnutrition has on life-expectancy, health and long-term productivity in those countries. As per the plan the DFID has set out, short-term measures will be adopted to directly address malnutrition including vitamin and mineral supplements for pregnant women, promotion of breastfeeding for newborn babies, providing vitamin A supplements to infants and young children, using zinc to reduce the harmful effects of diarrhoea and, promoting better hygiene and hand-washing.

The pledge from the UK comes ahead of a major international conference, to be organised by DFID. “Nutrition has an impact on almost all the goals - from maternal mortality to child health, education and gender equality,” it said.

“The nutrition strategy sets out a range of immediate and long-term measures to reach young children in the critical first 1,000 days from conception,” it further said. According to DFID, each country will draft an action plan to address the particular concerns at local levels. DFID’s new nutrition strategy will provide the basis for all six country plans.

“By focusing our efforts on the six countries, where malnutrition is highest, we can make a difference in the lives of 12 million children,” claimed DFID’s International Development Minister Mike Foster, adding, “That amounts to 10 per cent of all children in the world who are suffering from malnutrition”. He further said that the new strategy sets out a clear and comprehensive approach for preventing the short-term suffering.

“If we are to make good on the millennium development goals then we have to make nutrition a focus,” Foster said, adding, “This is not just about eradicating hunger, it’s about making sure people have a good quality diet that allows them to grow and develop properly.”

Globally, malnutrition is linked to the death of over three million children under five years old every year. Those that survive suffer reduced mental ability, have stunted growth, do worse in school and are less likely to find a good job in later life.