‘Stunted children today means stunted economies tomorrow.’ This sentiment, recently expressed by African Development Bank President Akin Adesina, encapsulates the sea change in how malnutrition is now viewed by global actors. Mr. Adesina was speaking at an event to launch a new global investment framework called Investing in Nutrition, co-authored by the World Bank and Results for Development Institute, which firmly establishes the importance of nutrition as a foundational part of development.
When I became deputy director of the Child Survival Partnership in 2004, I knew the task at hand –saving mothers and children -- was a challenging one. Four years earlier, the world’s countries had agreed on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to improve maternal health and reduce child mortality. We knew that moving the needle on maternal and child survival would take more headway and greater advances than had been seen to date.
Preference for large families continues to be a major factor determining levels of fertility in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recent data from DHS demonstrate reasons why men and women prefer and choose to have large families. Though factors influencing women’s decisions are complex and vary from one society to another, there are also similarities.
Let me begin by saying how deeply sorry I am that I couldn't make it today. As you know, Mental Health is a cause very close to my heart and it would have meant so much to me to be here in person.
I personally felt mental health’s deep-rooted importance when I returned home to Rwanda in 1996, just after my people were traumatized by the 1994 Tutsi genocide. At a time when we needed mental health services the most, there was only one psychiatrist in the entire country.
In 2000, one in three Peruvian children under 5-years-old suffered from chronic malnutrition. Several years later despite high economic growth and hundreds of millions of dollars spent in nutrition programs, the stunting rate barely inched down. Then, something happened.
Figure 1. Stunting Rate, Peru 2000-2015 (% of under-5 children)