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Globally Malnutrition is responsible for nearly half of all deaths of children under five years old
A $547 million programme aimed at improving childhood nutrition in Ethiopia has been launched.
The two-and-a-half year National Nutrition Programme (NNP) is aimed at strengthening multi-sector co-ordination to tackle the problem.
Its target is to cut stunting levels among children from 44% at present to 30% by 2015. It will also look to reduce the number of underweight children from 29% to 21% and those suffering from muscle wasting from 10% to three per cent in the same period.
Demeke Mekonen, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, said: “With this programme and other complementary strategies, we will once and for all ensure that future generations can fulfill their potential and lead healthy and prosperous lives.”
Despite some improvements over the five years to 2011, malnutrition remains the underlying cause of more than one in five child deaths in Ethiopia.
The findings of a new study entitled “The Cost of Hunger in Africa,” revealed that Ethiopia loses some 55.5 billion birr (US$4.5 billion) annually because of the problem.
A recently published series on Maternal and Child Nutrition in the Lancet medical journal found that malnutrition is responsible for nearly half of all global child deaths, accounting for more than three million child deaths in 2011 alone.
It recognises global progress in tackling malnutrition while calling for continued investment.
Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF’s Representative to Ethiopia said: “The face of a stunted child is the true face of poverty in Ethiopia.
“I am confident that by tackling stunting and ensuring each child reaches his or her full potential that the government will not only break the cycle of poverty, but also lay the foundation for sustainability in equitable economic growth.”
The Cost of Hunger in Africa study was conducted by the Government of Ethiopia, jointly with the African Union Commission (AUC) and The New Partnership for Africa’s development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency and supported by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the UN World Food Program (WFP).