Poor nutrition contributes to the deaths of some 5.6 million children every year and the world has fallen far short in efforts to reduce hunger by half before 2015, the U.N. Children's Fund said Tuesday.
It has long been known that malnutrition undermines economic growth and perpetuates poverty. Yet the international community and most governments in developing countries have failed to tackle malnutrition over the past decades, even though well-tested approaches for doing so exist. The consequences of this failure to act are now evident in the world's inadequate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and toward poverty reduction more generally.
Despite some progress in improving nutrition among the world's poor, improvements have failed to keep pace with the overall climate of global economic growth, according to a new United Nations report.
One third of South African children have low levels of vitamin A in the blood, a quarter suffer from malnutrition-related stunted growth, one in 10 are deficient in iron and one in eight are underweight. But there is little that parents on low to middle incomes can do to rectify their children's nutrition problems. To provide a completely healthy and balanced diet to three children aged 15, 10 and six years is costly, at current prices, almost R800 a month.This is equivalent to the entire monthly wage of some domestic workers and 66 percent of the official minimum wage. A survey by Professor Johan Potgieter of Port Elizabeth shows that keeping children healthy is expensive. He estimates that one to three-year-olds cost R162 per month, four to six-year-olds R213 monthly while seven to 10-year-olds will cost parents R246 every four weeks. The price of keeping a child healthy rises with their age.( Source : The Mercury, 15 October 2002)