World Vision News — 2012-05-29
By Caleb Starrenburg, Global Capitals Communications Manager
The collective efforts of NGOs and supportive governments led to a last-minute victory and major step towards improving nutrition for mothers, infants and children at this year’s World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Each year, 2.8 million children under five die from under-nutrition. The adoption of the Comprehensive Implementation Plan on Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition at the WHA represents a huge victory in the battle to save mothers' and children's lives,” says Dr Stefan Germann, Director for Partnerships, Innovation and Accountability, who led the World Vision delegation.
The Nutrition Plan establishes six global targets for Member States to be met by 2025, including a reduction in the number of stunted children, a decrease in the number of babies with low birth weight and an increase in the rates of exclusive breast feeding.
The acceptance of the plan had looked uncertain throughout the WHA, which is the decision making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), and attended by delegations from all WHO Member States.
The Nutrition Plan was brought before a committee of Member States three times during the WHA, but on the first two occasions failed to pass due to political complexities surrounding the changes being sought. Dedicated campaigning from World Vision and other NGOs, alongside the Canadian, Mexican, Swaziland and United Kingdom delegations, resulted in an amended plan being approved late on the final day of the WHA.
Following this achievement, a senior member of the Canadian delegation praised World Vision’s work as having made a significant contribution to the outcome.
“World Vision staff demonstrated the power of coordinated global advocacy through the Child Health Now campaign,” says Lisa O'Shea, World Vision’s Acting External Campaigns Manager. "By mobilising offices from across the Partnership we were able to work with government officials to ensure delegations knew the importance of supporting this plan."
As delegations return home from the WHA, World Vision will continue working through its Global Campaigns Team, global and regional nutrition technical advisors and national staff to translate the Nutrition Plan into action.
“It’s important we build on the success of advocacy efforts at the WHA to ensure the Nutrition Plan is implemented and lives are saved. Accountability matters to achieve results.” says Dr Germann.
WorldVision delegation at the World Health Assembly.