Today we observe the United Nations World Children’s Day, which promotes international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improved children's welfare. World Children’s Day is also a call to action in advocating for and promoting children’s rights, to ensure a better world for children. Much progress has been made, but there is still much more to achieve, especially on the nutrition front, where we are falling short.
Almost 50 percent of child deaths are linked to malnutrition, and more than 50 million children are wasted due to poor nutrition and disease. Children threatened and affected by malnutrition are at a disadvantage. Malnourished children are up to 11 times more likely to die, their cognitive and physical development is detrimentally affected, and they remain in a vicious cycle of vulnerability that no child deserves.
November 20 marks the day in 1959 when countries around the world adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, the basis for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted on November 20, 1989. Article 24 of the UNCRC calls for all Parties to take action to combat disease and malnutrition through primary health care, the application of readily available technology and the provision of nutritious foods and clean drinking water. Article 27 notes that Parties shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and other responsible for children to implement the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development, including the provision of assistance and support programmes, with special regard to nutrition.
“The commitment to feed and nourish our world’s children was to do far better than where we are today”, says Nabeeha Kazi-Hutchins, Executive Director of No Wasted Lives. “We applaud the progress to date; however, we must ensure that evidence, investment, solutions and services to combat wasting reflect current knowledge and needs, and that we are undeterred in together reaching the 50.5 million children who are wasted today.”
No Wasted Lives recognises that when children realise their fundamental rights to thrive and achieve, progress for all will be within reach. A child-centred agenda is an agenda that does right by all of humanity. As such, the need to tackle malnutrition in all of its forms, including wasting, must be elevated as a development priority.
“Preventing and treating wasting should be a very high development priority,” says Dr. Robert Black, Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and member of the Council of Research and Technical Advice on Acute Malnutrition (CORTASAM). “Wasting is closely associated with mortality, and reducing mortality in children remains a priority. But wasting also contributes to poor development and cognitive abilities, and improving those outcomes are a priority in order to improve human capital in the world.”
The solutions to change the course of malnutrition in all of its forms and for all children are at our fingertips. No Wasted Lives is determined to scale up wasting prevention and treatment action by increasing awareness, treatment, investment and policy commitment, in order to set the world on a trajectory to meet our global targets for wasting by 2025 and 2030.
“The end of wasting and preventable malnutrition deaths in children is within reach. We must have responsive policies and increased investments, revolutionise the prevention and treatment landscape and empower communities to step forward and be part of the collective impact,” says Kazi-Hutchins. “Our promise to end malnutrition in all of its forms was made to all children. On this World Children’s Day, we must magnify that promise, and deliver on it, for once and for all.”