3.9 Purposeful action: the need for equity
Accelerated economic growth can lead to substantial improvements
in nutrition only if the fruits of expansion are well used and equitably
distributed. WHO emphasises equity as the critical concern for health in the
21st century (WHO, 1998b). This ground-breaking analysis of the need
for greater equity is of fundamental importance to nutrition. Greater equity has
also been recognised by UNDP as a central concern when attempting to reduce
poverty on a larger scale (UNDP, 1997). The World Bank has endorsed the need for
greater equity, having found that countries which have pursued equitable
strategies have generally experienced more economic growth. Thus an emphasis on
reducing malnutrition should be tied to a policy of greater equity, both as an
issue of human rights and as an economically appropriate measure.
According to IFPRI the most likely scenario is that 150 million
children will still be undernourished in 2020 despite all the implied benefits
of the expansion in the economies of the world (Pinstrup-Andersen et al., 1997).
This projection was undertaken prior to the current world financial crisis.
Clearly the current world order and the expected policy and societal responses
to economic change are inadequate. Indeed, without major changes in policy, and
approaches by both individual governments and global financial institutions,
many developing countries will be handicapped. This handicap will be evident in
health outcomes but also in economic terms, because of the direct impact of a
reduction in human capital arising from childhood