Raising public awareness key to preventing malnutrition
Cyprian Ouma, emergency nutrition advisor at the World Vision East Africa Regional Office, believes raising public awareness through advocacy is crucial to preventing malnutrition.
“A significant number of child deaths are occurring from the simplest, preventable causes coming from malnutrition,” said Ouma.
Children weakened from malnourishment become more prone to preventable illnesses such as pneumonia and diarrhea.
“And the first 1,000 days through pregnancy to age two is crucial in determining the course of a child’s life,” said the nutrition specialist.
Providing proper nutrition during this period affects physical growth and the ability to fight off diseases as well as cognitive development.
“Child nutrition is a key development agenda, since the healthy growth of individuals is directly linked with the productivity and economic growth of a nation,” he said.
What World Vision seeks to do, among many other efforts, is to increase awareness through hosting civil society forums, such as the one held last week in Seoul.
The Korea Civil Society Forum on G20, Food Crisis and Malnutrition, co-hosted by World Vision, KoFID and Save the Children, was held at the Community Chest of Korea building in central Seoul, Thursday.
The forum, ahead of the G20 summit to be hosted by Mexico on June 18 and 19, was organized as an opportunity for the civic society to voice their opinions on child malnutrition, so that they could be reflected in the agenda for the summit.
Several speakers including Ouma, presented on the current situation of the food crisis and child malnutrition as well as efforts to tackle it. An official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade also gave a presentation on the upcoming G20 summit and the execution of agendas so far.
A panel discussion followed, in which representatives of civic groups spoke about the role of Korea and the G20 in dealing with the issue of child malnutrition.
“I believe Korea, which has become a strong economy, can play a key role in boosting advocacy for child nutrition,” said Ouma.
“This can be done by supporting direct intervention as well as country-led programs and being vocal about nutrition as an important development agenda,” he added.