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close this bookEnding Malnutrition by 2020: An Agenda for Change in the Millennium - Final report to the ACC/SCN by the commission on the nutrition challenges of the 21st century (ACC/SCN, 2000, 104 p.)
close this folder3. Societal Issues Underlying Malnutrition: Implications for Progress
View the document(introduction...)
View the document3.1 Conceptual framework
View the document3.2 Poverty and nutrition
View the document3.3 Women
View the document3.4 Care
View the document3.5 Education
View the document3.6 Key role of local communities
View the document3.7 The importance of non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
View the document3.8 The potential for public-private co-operation
View the document3.9 Purposeful action: the need for equity

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 undernutrition.