Dr Irene Mbugua, Minister for Trade and Development Joe Cosetllo T.D, Helen Keogh and Magnus Conteh at World Vision Ireland's launch of The Best Start Report
World Vision Ireland launched The Best Start - Saving Children's Lives in their First Thousand Days on Tuesday, the 18th of September.
The event was an overwhelming success and the Irish Minister for Trade & Development, Mr Joe Costello T.D., officially launched the report on the day. Speaking at the event the Minister made clear his commitment to providing nutrition for all children in their first 1,000 days:
“We recognise global hunger as the biggest development challenge of our time. We know that good nutrition in the first 1000 days of life is essential if a child is to reach its full physical and intellectual potential. Each year, three million children under five die as a result of under-nutrition and many millions more never achieve their full potential.
“Ireland is working closely with the United States, the United Nations Secretary General, and our partners in Africa to promote the Scaling Up Nutrition movement. We are working to bring together governments, donors, civil society, the United Nations and the private sector to support developing countries’ efforts to address maternal and child under-nutrition.
“Through the Irish Aid programme, Ireland is supporting food security for small holder farmers, particularly women. Irish Aid support for maternal and child health
is focused on poor and vulnerable mothers and their children.
Minister Joe Costello and Helen Keogh meeting at the launch of the Best Start Report
Ireland’s civil society partners are playing a pivotal role in combatting hunger and under-nutrition. World Vision’s Access Infant and Maternal (AIM) Health programme, which is supported by Irish Aid, is an excellent example of an innovative approach.”
World Vision Ireland CEO, Ms. Helen Keogh, took the opportunity to ask the Minister to ensure that Ireland prioritises maternal and child health when it hosts the European Presidency.
“In the first half of next year Ireland will have the honour of hosting the EU Presidency. During this time decisions will be made regarding a structure that will follow the Millennium Development Goal’s after 2015. It is essential that whatever replaces the Millennium Development Goals after 2015 has a strong focus on saving the lives of millions of children and mothers who are dying needlessly every day.”
“I ask you Minister to ensure that the Irish government works hard to ensure that any global agreements result in real change for real people living in the poorest communities around the world, especially the women and children whose lives could be so easily saved with the simplest of interventions.”
The Minister responded very positively to Helen’s requests and promised that Ireland will put the nutrition agenda at centre stage when it hosts the presidency.
Also speaking at the launch was Dr. Irene Mbugua, who is the Maternal, Newborn & Child Health Project Coordinator for World Vision East Africa region. Dr Irene shared her expertise in the area of child and maternal health as well as stories and experiences from the field, representing the voices of the mothers and babies the report is about.
World Vision Ireland staff member Magnus Conteh also gave an insight into information the Irish funded Mother and child programme which is called AIM Health. This programme aims to reduce maternal and infant mortality by 25% in ten target areas, by 2015.