Global leaders for comprehensive action to address malnutrition

DHAKA, April 4, 2017 (BSS) - Global leaders and top UN officials yesterday called for taking comprehensive policy action to prevent malnutrition problem for building a better future for all.

"Malnutrition has emerged a global health problem almost across the world particularly in developing countries that need to be addressed on an urgent basis," Gerda Verburg, UN Assistant Sectary General, told a session of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) here.

The IPU session styled "Urgent international action to save millions of the people from famine and drought in parts of Africa and Yemen" at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).

Chairperson of National Council of Parliament of Bhutan Sonam Kinga, parliamentarians of different countries, among others, took part in the general debate with Bangladesh Parliament Speaker Dr Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.

Gerda Verburg, also a coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, said most of the developing countries are facing malnutrition and hunger problem, which ultimately is undermining development efforts of those countries.

She urged all parliamentarians around the world to put nutrition "Very crucial agenda" to prevent undernutrition problem for establish equity-based society through ensuring access to financial resources.

"All countries should work together to produce a comprehensive action to fight malnutrition," Gerda Verburg said, adding, "It is very important to ensure food security for a hunger-free world.

She said Bangladesh has done remarkably well in coming down malnutrition rate particularly stunting children in the past couple of years.

"At present, stunting rate under five children is 36, which was above 40 parcent in few years ago. There are challenges for Bangladesh to address malnutrition problem as the country is facing higher undernutrition rate compared to different developing states, she added. Alongside focusing on malnutrition issue, Gerda Verburg said both developed and developing countries should focus on over nutrition as it causes different non-communicable diseases including diabetes and heart ailments.

Similarly other countries, Bangladesh also is facing over nutrition problems due to unhealthy lifestyle, she said, adding, "Global leaders must give special attention to both malnutrition and over nutrition issue for building a better future for all."

Sonam Kinga said, "Malnutrition is a country specific problem. Every country has different magnitude of hunger and malnutrition problems. So, we have to work together to fight malnutrition and hunger problems considering different food security sceneries."

He said, "Bangladesh has made a considerable progress in different fields of development. That is why Bangladesh is a model for many developing nations."

There is close link between nutrition and development, Sonam said, "We have to overcome the malnutrition problems through intensifying our efforts. Otherwise development programmes might be hampered due to lack of nutrition."

Hoda A Al-Helaissi, member of Majlis Ash Shura of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said developing countries including Bangladesh are facing malnutrition problems due to lack of knowledge and poverty.

She said, "Education could play an important role in eliminating malnutrition problems. Wealthy countries should support to the poor countries to increase food production for improving nutrition status of the people."

Other parliamentarians said as huge inequality exists in society, member countries of IPU should develop effective policy action to remove income inequality, which eventually will contribute to the efforts of removing malnutrition problems.

IPU could be an effective platform to end all sort of inequalities including political and financial, they said.

According to health experts, almost half of the population in Bangladesh are facing different magnitude of malnutrition because of unequal access to resources and education.

They said good governance and affirmative policy action must be taken to increase earning of poor people to fight hunger and malnutrition.

The five-day Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly began here on Saturday with a theme "Redressing inequalities: Delivering on dignity and well-being for all" at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the 136th IPU assembly on Jatiya Sangsad premises on Saturday.

As many as 1,345 delegates of 131 IPU countries have been attending the assembly to be concluded on Wednesday following adoption of a draft resolution on "role of parliament in preventing outside interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and Dhaka declaration".

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)