Ireland, U.S. Join Forces to Launch '1000 Days' Campaign

Sep 22, 2010, 11:54 ET from Concern Worldwide US

Commitment made at highest levels to end child hunger

NEW YORK, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Joining US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin for the launch of the joint American-Irish initiative "1000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future," Tom Arnold, CEO of the international humanitarian organization Concern Worldwide, said that, "We have the political momentum at the international level, but this has to be married to practical solutions on the ground and action at the national level in countries suffering from hunger."

The distinguished panel also featured Rajiv Shav, administrator of the US Agency for International Development; Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization; Muthar Kent, president and CEO of the Coca Cola Co.; David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; and Tony Lake, the new head of UNICEF.

The Sept. 21 "1000 Days" event represents a serious effort on the part of two governments to call attention to the needs of very young children with a clear focus on the growing appreciation that the first 1000 days of a child's life—the period beginning with the mother's pregnancy through age two—are critical.

"The evidence is compelling that under-nutrition in early childhood leads to physical and mental stunting—and stunting compromises the future of individuals, economies and nations," said Arnold, an internationally recognized expert on food security, in his address to the gathering. Each year, close to 1 million children die from severe acute malnutrition.

With the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Road Map, Clinton and Martin will call on the international community to advance a broad-based movement to improve child nutrition. The Road Map insists on substantially scaled up domestic and external assistance for individual country nutrition strategies and programs, which, drawing on international evidence of best practice, must be tailored to local conditions; it will scale up evidence-based cost-effective interventions to treat and prevent under-nutrition; and it calls for a multi-sectoral approach, involving, among others, health care and food security.

"While we have life-saving solutions, they remain out of reach for hundreds of millions of people worldwide," said Secretary Clinton. "We have to be ready in our partnerships to increase our support for countries struggling with under-nutrition [and] the hard work of capacity building should be our focus," she added. "We have to deliver both short term results and long term progress."

The Road Map also counts on the involvement of the private sector, not just in terms of financial support but also, and especially, as research and logistical partners. Coca Cola's Muhtar Kent said that, "the distribution networks of businesses reach every corner of the globe [and their] research and innovation acumen is transferrable across all geographies."

"The SUN Road Map stresses the critical importance of having an exclusive process at the country level. It is vitally important that national civil society organizations are included and that the voices and concerns of women—the major producers and preparers of food—are heard," said Arnold, whom Josette Sheering, executive director of the World Food Program, who also spoke on the panel, called a "pacesetter" in the fight against global hunger.

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SOURCE Concern Worldwide US