publicado em 14/10/2011 às 23h59:00
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Global food aid system is unable to serve children with malnutrition

Doctors Without Borders says that low-quality foods are distributed to millions of malnourished children each year

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Despite some recent victories in the fight against child malnutrition, the global system of food aid continues to offer low quality food for millions of malnourished children every year. The announcement was made by the international humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on the eve of World Food Day, celebrated on Sunday (16).

Malnutrition - a condition that can be prevented and treated - affects about 195 million children around the world, and is the cause of at least one third of the eight million annual deaths of children under five years of age; deaths that occur, mostly in developing countries. Children under two years old are most vulnerable, without access to food rich in nutrients needed for healthy growth and development, effective as supplementary food ready for use, that are available now, they will suffer debilitating consequences for the rest of their lives.

It has been proven to provide adequate nutritious food for vulnerable young children can save their lives. But still, the global system of food aid is not yet taking advantage of the revolutionary gains in nutrition, said Dr. Unni Karunakara, international president of Doctors Without Borders.

Most food shipments sent to countries such as sub-Saharan Africa is composed of a mixture of corn and soybean (corn-soy blend or CSB, the original English) and fortified flour, which does not have the nutrients and proteins essential for growing children. The United States, for example, send annually more than 143 000 tons of CSB - produced on American farms and processed - to developing countries.

The variety of products available for food aid is still neglecting the needs of vulnerable people, said Dr. Karunakara. There's no excuse for waiting: the major countries offering food aid must adapt.

This week, on behalf of more than 125 thousand people from over 180 countries, who signed a petition, MSF has sent letters to representatives of the largest food aid donor countries, including United States, European Union Member States, Canada and Brazil asking them to stop offering low quality food for malnourished children - or at risk of malnutrition - in developing countries.

Several countries, including Brazil, have had success in combating malnutrition within their borders by relying on strategies that would allow the most vulnerable people have access to food of high nutritional value, said Dr. Karunakara. But we still hoping they apply the same strategy and same focus foods who send other countries like food aid.

Some key players in the supply of food aid began to change. The World Food Programme (WFP), for example, began to adopt additional food to meet nutritional needs of children under two years of age as a basis for their interventions in health emergencies. These products have a key role in 2010 in response to the nutritional crisis that hit Niger, Pakistan (after floods) and Haiti after the earthquake. And some donor countries and aid agencies have improved the quality of food sent to Somalia and Kenya in response to the current nutritional crisis.

But still, children who live in contexts that do not fit into the category of large-scale emergencies continue to receive products that do not meet their nutritional needs, sent by major food aid donors.

Large-scale emergencies, such as the current crisis in Somalia and Kenya, represent only the tip of the iceberg of malnutrition, said Dr. Karunakara. Most malnourished children are invisible, and it is not certain that they have to suffer through wars or natural disasters to have access to nutritious food they need.

In late 2008, a meeting of experts organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) took into account the large amount of scientific evidence available and concluded that the nutritional standards of food aid needed to be improved. However, three years later, the WHO guidelines depends on whose body the majority of the Ministries of Health in developing countries, has not established formal guidelines to ensure the improvement in food for small children or malnourished.

WHO guidelines are essential to encourage donor countries to adopt higher standards for food aid receiving countries and offered help to take better measures to ensure that children have access to nutritious food quality, said Dr. Kurunakara. Children can not wait for the safety and efficacy of these new specialty foods have been proven by every government in every crisis situation, it serves only to delay the onset of essential programs, he added.

In June 2010, MSF launched VII Photo Agency and Hungry for Attention (Starved for Attention), a multimedia campaign featuring a series of crises and neglected child malnutrition invisible. VII of photojournalists traveled to places with high levels of malnutrition in the world - from war zones to emerging economies - to expose the underlying causes of the crisis of malnutrition, as well as innovative ways to combat this condition. We produced eight documentaries that can be seen on page

In 2010, MSF admitted more than 300,000 malnourished patients in nutrition centers in 139 projects spread across 28 countries.

Source: MSF
   Palavras-chave:   Malnutrition    Global system of food aid    Food    Low quality    Children    Doctors Without Borders    MSF    World Food Day   
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