UPDATE 12 August 2012: A lasting legacy for children around the world - find out what was achieved at the Global Hunger Event.
Almost one in three of the world’s poorest children cannot reach their full potential due to malnutrition. As the Olympics close, Prime Minister David Cameron and Vice President Michel Temer of Brazil will call on the world to take the action needed to transform the life chances of millions of children before the next Olympic Games in 2016.
A central part of London’s successful bid for the Games has been the legacy it will create for Britain - reinvigorating one of the poorest parts of the country and inspiring a whole generation of young people. We hope that this event on the closing day of the Games will mean that London 2012 also has a lasting legacy for millions more children around the world by improving their nutrition and giving them the opportunity to fulfil their potential too. A new global target to reduce the number of stunted children by 70 million by 2025 has been agreed by the World Health Assembly.
A nurse in a nutrition centre in Madhya Pradesh, India, measures the weight of a malnourished child. Picture: Nick Cunard/DFID
Fulfilling a child’s potential
The spirit of the Olympics is about athletes from all over the word striving to achieve their potential. But for around 170 million children today, their potential will already be limited by the time they are two years old. Stunting, the result of a prolonged poor diet or infection in early childhood, affects growth and physical ability. Stunted children may do less well at school and go on to earn less. Intervening in the first 1,000 days from the start of pregnancy can stop poor nutrition leading to permanent damage.
A range of highly cost-effective direct actions can help ensure that children get the right nutrients their bodies need to develop (such as preventing and treating vitamin deficiency). Ensuring people get enough food, clean water, better sanitation and education for mothers and children are vital too.
Generating the political will and leadership to address malnutrition is an even greater challenge. Countries which have taken concerted action to reduce under-nutrition have shown remarkably fast rates of reduction. Brazil, Peru, Thailand and China are among these.
The UN Secretary General recently challenged us all to create a world free from stunting. A new global target to reduce the number of stunted children by 40% by 2025 has been agreed by the World Health Assembly. The Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, to which 28 countries have now signed up, is developing the framework for monitoring progress against stunting targets. The G8 ‘New Alliance on Food and Nutrition Security’ is committed to supporting SUN in the scale-up.
Global Hunger Event
On 12 August, Prime Minister David Cameron and Vice President Michel Temer of Brazil will challenge global leaders to step up efforts to improve nutrition and reduce the rate of stunting among the world’s poorest children between now and the next Olympics in 2016.
The Global Hunger Event will help to strengthen these commitments by identifying pioneering new ways of working to tackle malnutrition and bringing in new champions to support the global movement.