Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has outlined five steps he believes necessary to end the epidemic rates of malnutrition in Africa
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has outlined five steps he believes necessary to end the epidemic rates of malnutrition in Africa.
Over the last 20 years, Africa has seen steady growth, which is, however, being undermined by the unacceptably high rates of malnutrition on the continent, says the Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation.
An estimated 14 million children in Africa are acutely malnourished, with more than 59 million suffering from stunted growth.
He describes malnutrition as one of the region’s major obstacles to health, economic growth and development, which can be improved and sustained only by continuous investment in the youth population.
Annan, as a member of the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN), has supported the African Heads of State in their commitment to nutrition and their formal endorsement of the ALN initiative at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.
He also laid out five priorities in fighting against malnutrition, with the first being a need for both the public and private sector to champion nutrition and the necessary financial investment to deliver socio-economic and health returns.
Within this, a particular focus should be on infants, children and mothers, as Annan stresses that the first 1,000 days of life are the most critical in a child’s development in terms of adequate nutrition.
Second, he urged governments to adopt a nutrition-sensitive view on new policies, not just as a health issue, but across multiple sectors from agriculture to education.
One way of tackling malnutrition, the former Secretary-General suggests, is to make crops and diets more diverse and nutritious, and to focus on quality just as much as quantity.
Furthermore, Annan looks to the creation of new partnerships and the promotion of solutions between governments, civil society and the private sector, as by pooling resources progress can be accelerated towards the WHO Global Nutrition Targets and 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
In addition, a nutrition accountability mechanism should be put in place to build on the success of similar tools: the ALN, for example, is establishing a Nutrition Accountability Scorecard to track implementation progress, identify good strategies and policies, and drive performance.
Finally, Annan said that a focus on data would be critical in fighting against malnutrition, as timely, relevant, reliable data would help to define problems, diagnose root causes, and make informed decisions on policy.
Summarising, Kofi Annan said that an end to the serious nutrition crisis in Africa is possible if every sector commits to bold and sustained leadership on the issue.
He concluded: “Let us all live up to this collective responsibility so that African people, communities and nations can reach their full potential.”
*Article origins found in comment piece by Chairman Annan on LinkedIn.