Sayon Keita with her 8 month old son, Samba. A few days before this photo was taken, Samba was receiving treatment for severe malnutrition at Kangaba Hospital in Mali.
year International Women's day and Mother's Day fall very close together. So it's apt that UNICEF UK should publish a report on the crucial role of mothers in
tackling child nutrition. The right ingredients: the need to invest in child nutrition calls for a holistic
approach to child malnutrition that involves mothers from the outset.
Mother's Day, a lot of us will look to our mums in thanks for their support and
love throughout our lives. A lot of us, including myself, forget just what our
mothers did for us when we were babies. From
conception to our second birthday, our mothers fundamentally shape our future. We
have so much to thank our mums for; from our first 1,000 days of life they are
vital to our long-term development.
starts from the very beginning - during pregnancy - when mothers need vitamins
and iron to ensure that their babies grow strong. In the first hour of a baby's
life, new mums produce colostrum, an essential and powerful
milk which babies need to fight bugs. Exclusive breastfeeding within the next
six months is just as powerful; amazingly an infant from 0 - 6 months only
needs breast milk to flourish into a happy healthy baby.
many mothers around the world are unable to give their children the best start
at life. Many mothers are too underweight or do not receive a nutritious diet
to help their babies grow strong in the womb. Equally, breastfeeding rates are
not as high as they should be and many children are not breast fed exclusively
for long enough. This is having a terrible impact on children.
know that the first 1,000 days (from conception to the second birthday) is a
critical window of opportunity, and if we work with mothers we can prevent stunting - the consequence of malnutrition. Stunting is the irreversible impact of not receiving nutritious food. The effects are devastating, as children who are
stunted cannot grow properly as their brains do not fully develop. The consequences of stunting lead to difficulties in school and a life of lost potential.
over 2 million children die of malnutrition every year; that is four every
minute. We believe this is a scandal in a world which produces enough food for
everyone. The report - The right ingredients: the need to invest in child nutrition - calls on the Government to reach its aid pledge so that we can scale up our child nutrition work and reach more vulnerable mothers and children.
We know we can make a difference. Providing supplements to mothers during pregnancy;
promoting breastfeeding within the first hour and six months; and supporting
complementary feeding from six months, can dramatically transform a child's
life. UNICEF works around the world supporting mothers and infants to ensure
they grow and thrive.
hope you will join us and the IF campaign in ending world hunger and child
Ali Louis is the International Policy and Research Officer on Child Nutrition at UNICEF UK.