David Mundell MP has this week called for further action to fight malnutrition as part of the UK’s ongoing commitment to international development programmes.
Mr Mundell, who is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Nutrition for Growth, spoke out during a debate in the House of Commons on Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spending, saying that the UK must use its international influence to help mobilise funding to promote good nutrition, not take actions that diminish it.
David Mundell MP said:
“Nutrition is like rocket fuel for our aid budget. Our interventions in health, education and emergency humanitarian response are all more impactful when coupled with long term interventions that improve nutrition.
“This is because children can only develop healthy and robust immune systems if they get the right nutrition. A strong immune system is the first line of defence against illness – it is essential for a healthy and productive life.
“According to the World Health Organisation, 45% of all under-5 deaths are linked to malnutrition. And heartbreakingly, as a result of COVID-19’s disruption to food systems, an estimated further 433 children are expected to die of malnutrition every single day.
“Not only does malnutrition cost lives, it drives absence from school, reduces concentration and therefore prevents children from learning and reaching their full potential as adults, perpetuating a cycle of poverty. As well as the impacts this has on individuals, malnutrition prevents economic growth – and as a result, puts our aid budget under strain.
“All of what the government says it hopes to achieve through our aid budget – be it girls’ education, women’s health, or economic development – is enabled and enhanced through nutrition.
“As well as having exceeded their target of reaching 50 million people with nutrition interventions, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has a strong track record of reaching the most vulnerable people and delivering high impact interventions based on evidence and science.
“By hosting the Nutrition for Growth summit in 2013 – which mobilised over £17bn for nutrition – and stepping up as a major donor to nutrition in the years since, the UK has unrivalled convening power and is able to catalyse funds for nutrition from other donors and domestic governments. We must build that influence, not take actions that diminish it.”