Global child malnutrition needs global response

My son, Joshua, recently turned 16 months old. (As a new parent, I’ve learned that we track our young children’s ages by months or even days rather than by years.) As Joshua grows, I witness him becoming increasingly independent and stubborn, particularly when it comes to eating.

Eating has become a daily challenge and game. My wife and I have to transform every meal into an entertaining game of hide-and-seek or peekaboo in order to get him to eat. Then, in dramatic fashion, Joshua will start throwing his food on the floor to emphatically tell us that he is done.

Though I hope this passes soon, I know that his behavior is common for a soon-to-be 2-year-old. But I have to admit that the ritual pains me, knowing that so many children around the world lack access to basic -- let alone nutritious -- food.

Since Joshua was born, I've been made increasingly aware of the desperate need for bolder global leadership on the issues of hunger and malnutrition. If Joshua misses or doesn’t eat a full meal, his day goes on as normal. If millions of children under the age of 2 around the world continue to miss meals because nutritious food is unaffordable or inaccessible, their minds and growth will likely be stunted and could lead to a tragic but entirely preventable death.

Janet Aroo was found to be severely malnourished at just 10 months old. Here, she eats Plumpy'Nut, a nutritionally-fortified paste used to counteract malnutrition. (Photo: Lucy Murunga/World Vision)

Tragically, one out of every four children suffers permanent physical and mental disabilities due to chronic malnutrition.

In anticipation of the 2012 G8 Summit coming up on May 18-19, World Vision has been working in coalition with organizations like Save the Children, ONE, and others to convince President Obama and other G8 leaders to prioritize issues of child malnutrition and global hunger.

The G8 Summit may seem like an “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” event that takes place in a remote and often-luxurious location. But it’s a significant meeting of the world’s most powerful leaders, where life-or-death decisions are made, in a very literal sense.

Due to a groundswell of public pressure, past G8 Summits have resulted in pledges of greater support for life-saving programs such as child and maternal health, food security, and effective foreign assistance.  We need this public pressure, yet again.

While the 2012 G8 Summit risks being overshadowed by the continuing global economic crisis and the presidential election, your voice can help ensure that many of the world’s most vulnerable children are not forgotten.

On the White House website, you can find an online petition, calling on President Obama to prioritize child health and nutrition at the G8 Summit. If we can acquire 25,000 signatures within 30 days, not only will we have demonstrated that there is tremendous public support for tackling child malnutrition, but the White House has promised to provide an official, public response to our petition.

This would be a tremendous step in making sure child malnutrition is highlighted at this year’s G8 Summit.

Every two minutes, 10 children die of malnutrition. Use your next two minutes to help save lives.

Add your name to our petition. Tell President Obama that you’re serious about ending childhood malnutrition around the world.


    My heart aches as I read your blog. As I too have a 19 months boy that does the same. And I think of so many babies that would want to eat what my son throws away because he is full.
    How can our efforts to support children's nutrition? And making sure that food really get to the right mouths?

    Hi Rute. There are a variety of ways to help fight hunger and malnutrition. I'd suggest looking up reputable charities who are already doing this work and supporting them. You can check out Charity Navigator or do Google searches. Advocating for our global leaders to make hunger/malnutrition a priority is very important, as is financially supporting the cause. One way to give is through grant multipliers, so your donation can actually "triple" in effectiveness. Check out our Survive to Five campaign: -Jonathan, WV staff

    Our Lord commands us to care for widows and orphans, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick...not just here in America, but around the world. It begins with ME and it begins with YOU. Please support this effort to accomplish this mission.

    It is quite shameful in this day and age that these (malnutrition, human trafficking, homelessness, etc.)stilll exist. We ALL must do something. Now.

    With all that we have accomplished and all the technological advances we have made, we should be able to stop child malnutrition.

    We would like to work with you in coalition on the G8 Summit. Two words reflect the situation in Africa - Hope and NEED. The Lord's Child Orphanage in Uganda provides hope for children in the midst of overwhelming poverty.

    God has blessed us with being born into this wonderful country. As we pray for these children; let's pray that we bring God back into our actions and support this mission.

    As a father of five, I find myself saying, on a daily basis, "there are starving children in Africa who would love to have a meal like this" when they snub there noses to whatever is for dinner. We struggle with wasted food because they are accustomed to abundance an have zero fear of their hunger pains being satisfied. The question that arises in reading this article is - "How do we shift our thinking - permanently - to begin thinking about the needs of others and ensuring that the basic needs of every person are met? As a nation, we are manipulated to remain focused on our individual wants, both material and physical. Stories such as this emerge, and for a brief moment many of us will turn our attention to those in need - then we return to business as usual. How can this change? How can we do better in serving the poor?

    Hi Randy. That's a great question and one that is often on our hearts at World Vision. The need is so great and constant, and we're called to care... but how do we deal with the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality? Or worse yet, the "it doesn't affect me personally so I'll ignore it" mentality. That's why we do what we do. We need to advocate for and amplify the voice of the poor. If you have any clever ideas of how to do this better, definitely let us know! We love hearing things like that. It's so good to hear from you and know that others are struggling with the same question. Keep it up! And as a related note, here's a blog we wrote about how sadness can be a gift, as we see expressed through Jesus' compassion: -Jonathan, WV staff

    Thank you for your rely Jonathan. I did read the blog post you suggested - thank you - it was wise and touched my heart with its truth. I do appreciate all of the work done by WV on our behalf, you are on the front lines in the face of the crisis while we remain in the safety of our homes. So I guess what we can do is not forget the work you are doing, not take it for granted. That because we are not on the front lines, does not mean our role is unimportant. You're right, we all need to advocate for the poor and do what we are able, where ever we are, to that their needs do not go unmet and their struggle is not ignored. Thank you again.

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