Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday called for concerted efforts of the international community to fight against poverty and hunger as the two issues had global origins and implications.
“The whole world needs to mobilise its resources, share experiences, research findings and technology, and fully commit themselves to implementing global and national plans and strategies on these issues,” she told the inaugural session of Global Nutrition Event at 10 Downing Street.
Joint Chair of the event British Prime Minister David Cameroon and Vice-President of Brazil Michel Temer also spoke at the session.
Hasina mentioned that there was a need for global consensus to effectively respond to over-speculative transactions and commercialisation of commodity markets. “Likewise, external banking, currency and financial transactions also have tremendous impacts.”
She said, “The farmers and consumers both suffer from price volatility. This must be addressed if we’re to achieve progress on hunger and under-nutrition.”
Similarly, development efforts were being hampered owing to impacts of climate change, Hasina mentioned.
Referring to the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN), Hasina said malnutrition was the largest single contributor to disease, and in childhood, “leads to physical and mental underdevelopment”.
An estimated 146 million children living in developing countries were underweight as a result of acute and chronic hunger. More than 147 million pre-school children in developing countries face stunting. The Global Hunger Index indicates that South Asia has the highest child malnutrition rate in the world.
Bangladesh represents 6 percent of global childhood under-nutrition, Hasina said adding that her government had been able to reduce under-nutrition from 42 percent to 36 percent and stunting from 43 percent to 41 percent.
One third of women in Bangladesh are undernourished, she said, and a large proportion of pregnant women were anaemic when micronutrient deficiencies were also major concerns.
To reduce childhood and maternal malnutrition, she said, the government was focusing on the first 1000 days of life, and promoting delayed marriage and lowering incidences of low birth weight babies, and subsequent malnutrition.
She said the government launched a five-year National Nutrition Services (NNS) from July 2011 to integrate nutrition with the 11,000 community clinics already in operation.
A comprehensive approach to address the issue of nutrition was underway to improve dietary intake, food safety, hygiene practice, water and sanitation, immunisation, and health education, the premier said.
-With UNB/The Daily Star input