Focus On Early Childhood Critical To New Development Framework

“UNICEF’s latest report [.pdf] on child nutrition, launched at the Dublin Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, Climate Justice hosted by the Mary Robinson Foundation and Irish Government, revealed that every year 2.3 million children under the age of five still die of malnutrition and 165 million children are stunted as a result of not receiving enough nutritious food within the first 1,000 days of life,” British Member of Parliament Ivan Lewis, the shadow secretary of state for international development, writes in a Huffington Post U.K. “Politics” opinion piece. He adds the report “demonstrates the vital link between development and the importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life,” and continues, “Addressing stunting can break the cycle of poverty and have significant social and economic impacts on the development of nations. However, at the moment the scale of stunting means that more than one quarter of the world’s children cannot reach their full potential.”

“This global injustice needs to be tackled,” Lewis writes, adding, “This year the U.K. has a unique opportunity to show global leadership on this issue.” He notes, “The U.K. is hosting a Hunger Summit in June ahead of the G8 meeting of leaders,” and continues, “Beyond the G8 this summer, the U.N. will continue its deliberations on what should replace the Millennium Development Goals when they reach their deadline in 2015. I believe that there should be a strong focus on children and central to any new development framework should be an integrated approach to the early childhood years bringing together nutrition, immunization, maternal health, parenting, and education.” Lewis concludes, “UNICEF’s report will do a great deal to draw the world’s attention to the importance of investing in children, and I hope the Hunger Summit and G8 special event on tax, trade and transparency will take big steps towards ending extreme poverty, starting with our children” (4/16).

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