Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) - Hailing Tanzania’s efforts to improve the nutrition of infants and mothers, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has challenged countries around the world to come up with national programmes that will end the global crisis of chronic under-nutrition.
“We challenge countries to key benchmarks to make national progress in the 1,000 days effort to reduce maternal and child under-nutrition between September 2010 and June 2013,” Clinton said at a one-day roundtable discussion with Tanzania’s Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore and senior Tanzanian government officials.
Clinton and then-Irish Minister for Foreign affairs Michael Martin, joined by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leaders from around the world, in September 2010 launched the 1,000 Days Initiative to focus attention on the 1,000-day window of opportunity from pregnancy to age two to save young lives from under-nutrition-related deaths.
Every year, under-nutrition causes over 3.5 million child deaths worldwide.
“Scientific insight motivated me and our Irish friends to launch the 1,000 days partnership last September as part of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement,” said Clinton.
“A healthy 1,000 days changes the cause of a child’s life. It also significantly benefits communities and even countries,” she argued, adding: “Healthy children will get off to a good start, will be more productive members of the workforce.”
On his part, Gilmore, recalling that hunger had a deep resonance with the Irish people, said: “Famine experience has shaped the values and principles that were embedded in our development programmes.”
It was for that reason, he explained, Ireland and the United States were working in partnership to lead efforts to combat under-nutrition around the world.
“We committed to 1,000 days of action to scale up nutrition. We committed to lead by influence and example. We are 264 days into that work,” Gilmore said, stressing his country’s pledge to support local communities, national governments and the international community to reduce maternal and child under-nutrition.
“It is essential that the SUN movement is now translated into action at country level, action that will transform the lives of millions and enable them to unleash their full human potential,” he said after Prime Minister Pinda outlined Tanzania’s strategy to improve nutrition for mothers, infants and young children.
Both the United States and Ireland emphasised that they would support country-led strategies that aim to scale up nutrition nationally in order to create economic growth and improve the lives of people.
“The US, along with other partners, has begun to think differently about our work in nutrition. The Obama administration has made a central point of our policies and programmes across a range of related issues,” said Clinton, announcing that the US has decided to increase nutrition funding in Tanzania this year by four times to nearly US$6.7 million.
“This funding will support public campaigns to make sure every parent, grandparent, all siblings and children know about what goes into nutrition. We stand ready to support nutrition programmes that provide high returns.
“We are focusing on the 1,000-day window of opportunity between pregnancy and two years of age, because we know conclusively from brain research that is the time when a child is cognition, intellectual and physical development is at most risk,” Clinton said.
According to the Secretary of State, the US was also devoting agricultural resources to developing country programmes with a greater impact on improving nutrition.
“I hope Tanzania will become a model for other nations seeking to reduce hunger and under-nutrition to create economic growth and improve people’s lives,” she added.
Meanwhile, Gilmore announced that, in addition to support in the agriculture and health sectors, Ireland will devote over US$2 million to nutrition programmes in Tanzania this year.
Premier Pinda said the Tanzanian government had committed itself to key issues on scaling up nutrition, starting with finalisation of implementation arrangements for the national nutrition strategy, which includes clear responsibilities for ministries, development partners, private sector and civil society.
He said the government would soon set up a high-level steering committee for nutrition and establish a designated budget line for nutrition, commencing in fiscal 2012/2013.
The government, he explained, has made its commitment clear to integrate nutrition into agricultural activities as outlined in the Tanzania Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plan.
In addition, it would speed up the establishment and deployment of nutrition focal points at district level, while it enforces the national food fortification standards for oil, wheat and maize flour that were approved in 2010.
World leaders last September agreed they would look at the progress of the SUN movement and 1,000 Days partnership after one year, when they meet again in New York.
-0- PANA AR/SEG 12June2011