Around 3 million under-fives lose their lives to malnutrition every year. In fact, 45% of all preventable child deaths are linked to malnutrition.
But it isn’t as simple as stopping people starving; children often die because they lack vital micronutrients. For example, iodine deficiency – which affects as many as 2 billion people worldwide – is the most prevalent but most easily preventable cause of brain damage in the world.
Let’s think about that for a second.
How can we possibly expect people with mental impairments due to malnutrition to build a better future for their own children?
When we work to tackle malnutrition, other progress follows.
Meeting children’s nutritional needs gives their immune system the boost it needs to fight disease. It supports brain development, leading to a greater capacity to learn at school, leading to more skills and ability to earn a living. A strong nutritional foundation gives individuals the tools they need to support themselves, and begin to affect change in their own nations.
Nutrition is a key area in terms of directly saving lives, and in creating long term economic growth in the developing world.
Here’s how you can help:
1. Consider donating to an effective charity focused on nutrition.
Project Healthy Children works with governments in developing countries to fortify staple foods such as flour, sugar, rice and oil. This process adds micronutrients such as iodine and vitamin A to foods, helping to prevent cases of brain damage, blindness and death in childbirth amongst the other dangers of malnutrition. Once the charity sets up a program in the country, it continues to do good year after year.
2. Ask high level politicians (such as David Cameron) if they will attend the Nutrition for Growth Summit in Brazil next year.
The summit provides a historic opportunity to commit new resources and encourage every developed nation to support global nutrition.
The UK actually has a very good track record for supporting nutrition in developing nations; we need to ensure this leadership continues, and that other countries are encouraged to follow our lead.
You can write to David Cameron (letters are usually far more effective – and responded to faster – than emails), or you can tweet @David_Cameron, asking him if he will attend the Nutrition for Growth summit in Brazil using the hashtag #ReadyforRio.
Together we can shift the world onto a path where everybody has the nutrients they need to lead full, healthy lives.