Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nutrition and the MDGs

Eight million children under the age of five die each year globally due to hunger, which is a major contributing factor to under nourishment within populations. Nutrition, especially that of children, is extremely important when thinking about sustainable development within developing countries. The World Health Organization states that “nutrition is a critical part of health and development…people with adequate nutrition are more productive and crate opportunities to gradually break the cycles of poverty and hunger.” Vella et al., found that children that are undernourished suffer from an increase in morbidity and mortality and are more prone to suffer from delayed mental development, poor school performance and reduced intellectual achievement. Additionally, there is the probability that undernourished children could grow into being functionally impaired in adult life, thus causing the possibility of not being able to be fully functioning members of society. To become active and productive members of society in the future of any country, this cycle of poverty, hunger and malnutrition must be addressed.

In September 2000, the United Nations decided to include the problem of hunger and undernutrition in 2 Millennium Development Goals. The first UN MDG goal is to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. The fourth goal is to reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under five mortality rate. Specifically, part A of the fourth goal mentions revitalizing efforts against pneumonia and diarrhea, while bolstering nutrition to save millions of children.

The non-profit organization that I chose to highlight is Millennium Promise. They are one of the leading international organizations that focuses’ solely on achieving the MDG’s halving poverty in half by 2015. It is a partner with the Earth Institute (EI) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the Millennium Villages project. The project works with local communities across Africa to help teach communities to pull themselves out of extreme poverty. Staff work with communities to “create and implement low cost, sustainable, community-led actions plans that are tailored to the villages’ specific needs and designed to achieve the MDGs.” Not only do they believe in working with the economic development, but also believe that part of ending extreme poverty includes addressing interconnected challenges in health and nutrition, agriculture, environment, gender equality, business development, education and infrastructure.

Here is a short video from Millennium Promises that gives a basic introduction to the problems caused by poverty and what you can do to help in the struggle against it.

Photo by WHO/Marko Kokic

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