February 17, 2012
The Save the Children's report "A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition" highlights how important nutrition is to the health of the world's most vulnerable people, particularly mothers and children. Historically, Canada has been a leader in supporting international nutrition efforts globally. As I have stated on many occasions, it is important to help meet the need for food, but it is critical to provide the right food.
The report reminds us how nutrition affects the health of women and children and impacts their ability to resist disease, fight illness, survive delivery and early infancy, benefit from education, and survive hardship challenges that living in poverty presents.
Our government has incorporated nutrition into both its humanitarian and its development work. For example, Canada was one of the first countries to contact the World Food Programme immediately following the Haiti earthquake to ensure that the nutritional needs of victims of the earthquake were addressed. In response to the needs the victims of the recent floods in Pakistan, Canada has ensured that the diversity of food being provided to the victims has included an increase in fresh vegetables and fruits.
Under our government, CIDA's development work now has an open, stated focus on nutrition. Within our food security thematic sector focus, nutrition is a key part of our work in food assistance and agriculture. Many CIDA-supported projects help small-holder farmers, particularly women, cultivate more nutritious crops such as yams and pulses.
Canada also led global efforts to improve the health of mothers and children through its G8 Muskoka Initiative on Maternal and Child Health. We were also able to ensure that nutrition was an integral part of the UN Secretary General's Global Strategy on Women and Children's Health.
Our government has made a strong commitment to help meet the challenges for food security, maternal and child health and to do so effectively. That is why we have taken concrete steps to ensure that the nutritional needs of those living in poverty in developing countries will be met effectively and why we will continue to encourage others to follow our lead.