New York, US (PANA) - The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday that stronger partnerships and industry support were needed to meet the demand for life-saving nutrition products for children, which had reached an all time-high.
In a two-day meeting in Denmark with almost 100 UNICEF partners, the Director of the agency’s Supply Division, Ms. Shanelle Hall, urged the nutrition industry to "help civil society, governments and the UN to find solutions to this human crisis".
Hall's speech, which was made available to PANA in New York, stated that the Horn of Africa, where drought had left millions of people dependent on humanitarian aid, was a "harsh reminder of the importance of sustained nutrition programmes and the ability to provide a rapid response".
She remarked that more than 20 million children worldwide were estimated to be suffering from severe and acute malnutrition.
According to her: "Compared to 2010, we expect an increase of 50 per cent in nutrition products by 2012 but this is still only sufficient to help 15 per cent of the children facing starvation.
"The demand for nutrition supplies ranges from ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) – the most common treatment for malnutrition among children under the age of five – to children’s weighing scales.
"Together with our partners and industry, we have to ensure that we can meet the need by increasing production capacity, encouraging new suppliers and supporting the development of innovations in product development."
During the meeting, UNICEF would focus on the most pressing demands to ensure that communities in need have access to the right products.
Participants would also focus on the global production of supplementary food, such as corn soya blend flour, which feeds thousands of families in the drought and famine in Somalia and neighbouring countries.
Among the practical partnerships being discussed is the work between Medecins Sans Frontieres, the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF to implement a standardized quality system for producing therapeutic and supplementary food.
This is the second UNICEF consultative meeting with manufacturers, suppliers and other partners to discuss ways to manage different types of malnutrition in children and mothers, as well as the technical issues on supplying nutrition products.
-0- PANA AA/BOS/MA 5Oct2011