On the sidelines of the U.N. High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) on Tuesday, “[r]epresentatives of governments, civil society and the private sector joined United Nations agencies … to emphasize the importance of good nutrition, which is vital not only for human health but also for national economic and social development,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The event “took place one year after the launch of the Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, a global initiative that aims to improve maternal and child nutrition,” the news service reports (9/20).
Food Security and Nutrition
The PBS NewsHour blog “The Rundown” features an interview with USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, in which he discusses a new website initiative called “FWD,” “aimed at giving viewers a better sense of the scope of the famine in the Horn of Africa — its worst in more than 60 years.” The site includes infographics and data maps “intended to contextualize the problem by showing the recent increase in food prices, where internally displaced peoples camps are located, and where various aid groups are operating,” according to the blog (Epatko, 9/20).
With the retreat of the Islamist extremist group al-Shabab out of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, where famine is threatening the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, “the U.N.-backed peacekeeping force can and should be quickly expanded,” according to Somalia’s prime minister and the U.N. envoy to the nation, in order to “allow the force to move out from the capital to secure routes for aid,” a Washington Post editorial states.
Chad Faces Food Security And Health Challenges, But Opportunity Exists For Improvement, U.N. Official Says
U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad Thomas Gurtner “says Chad faces daunting food security and health challenges” but that “peace and growing stability in Chad bodes well for the country’s future,” VOA News reports. He cited high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition among children, “insufficient rainfall” that likely will “limit agricultural production,” rising food prices, the “worst cholera epidemic in years,” and the return home of more than 80,000 Chadian migrants who were working in Libya and sending money home to their families, the news service notes.
“Twenty years after the central government collapsed,” Somalia is facing drought, food insecurity and conflict larger in scale than when famine conditions hit the nation in the 1990s, “[a]nd given the world’s limited interest in a major intervention, that is not likely to change anytime soon,” the New York Times reports in a news analysis on the situation.
Several news sources have published opinion pieces regarding the ongoing famine in Somalia and hunger situation in the Horn of Africa, some of which are summarized below:
The Washington Post examines how high rates of malnutrition among Somali children — approximately 36 percent under age five are malnourished and almost 16 percent are severely malnourished, according to Somalia’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit — are “the biggest test yet of recent improvements in assessing and treating malnutrition, changes that range from the coordination of care to the ingredients of food aid.”
U.N. Agencies, Pakistan Government Launch Rapid Needs Assessment, Provide Aid In Flood-Affected Regions
“United Nations humanitarian agencies have begun to assist communities in southern Pakistan that have been pummeled by monsoon rains which have claimed the lives of almost 200 people and destroyed or damaged nearly one million homes in an area still recovering from last year’s catastrophic floods,” the U.N. News Centre reports. The U.N. and the Pakistan government “have begun a rapid needs assessment in Sindh, with shelter, food, water, sanitation, hygiene and health care expected to be the priorities,” the news service writes (9/10).
In a systematic review published by the Cochrane Collaboration last week, researchers found that the micronutrient powder used in recent years to combat malnutrition, anemia and iron deficiency in children was very helpful in preventing malnutrition in children six to 24 months old, VOA News reports. World Health Organization epidemiologist Luz Maria De Regil “and other researchers combined the results of eight previous studies involving thousands of children,” VOA writes, adding, “The studies were done on three continents, in countries as varied as Haiti, Cambodia, and Ghana.”
News Corp Australian Papers/Fox News reports that scientists in Australia have created genetically modified rice that “has up to four times more iron than conventional rice and twice as much zinc” in an effort to “provide a solution to the iron and zinc deficiency disorders that affect billions of people throughout the world.” “Rice is the main food source for roughly half the world’s population, including billions of people in developing countries across Asia, but the polished grain is too low in iron, zinc and Vitamin A to meet dietary needs,” the article notes.