UN Launches Trust Fund to Prevent Chronic Malnutrition

Despite affecting 149 million children globally, chronic malnutrition lacks both widespread attention and adequate investment…

The United Nations had Monday launched a novel trust fund dedicated to preventing chronic malnutrition, officials said. ,

The trust fund to be popularised as UNITLIFE, was officially launched on the sidelines of the Generation Equality, an event co-hosted by Jean-Yves Le Drian, France Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, as.well as Reem bin t Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, United Arab Emirates.

UN noted that despite affecting 149 million children globally, “chronic malnutrition lacks both attention and adequate investment.

“Through innovative finance and partnerships, UNITLIFE seeks to close that investment gap to finance nutritious food systems and climate-smart agriculture, while empowering women and increasing their awareness about the vital importance of good nutrition for their children.

In a press released made available to The Humanitarian Times, the global aid agency said UNITLIFE was created by UN Women, the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the Government of France, and the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, which provided $2.5 million USD of funding through Reaching the Last Mile (RLM), a portfolio of global health programs working towards disease elimination that is driven by the personal commitment of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi”.

Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in his opening speech that: “Food insecurity and malnutrition remain one of the greatest challenges of our century. While historic progress has been made, we unfortunately know that they remain insufficient.’’

“As you know France is taking determined action to reduce this scourge by focusing a significant portion of its efforts on pregnant or breastfeeding women or infants during the crucial 1000-day period surrounding the birth of a child,” continued Minister Le Drian.

“We are therefore very proud to be a permanent member of UNITLIFE with, among other, UN Women, which contributed to the creation of this initiative with the support of UN Capital Development Fund. I would also like to hail the support of the United Arab Emirates’ continued support, a very decisive support in the development of this initiative.”

In her remark, Her Eminence Reem bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy said government of country home has a long history with focusing on global health.

“I am honored to announce our support of UNITLIFE and the effort to protect millions of children around the globe who are vulnerable to chronic malnutrition,” she said.

“Reflecting the UAE’s decades-long focus on global health, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed is committed to creating a healthier future, particularly within the world’s most vulnerable communities.

“UNITLIFE’s efforts to fight chronic malnutrition are steeped in innovation and sustainability, approaches that the UAE shares. Our holistic approach to global development reflects an understanding that we can only uplift humanity if we first work to improve health and food systems and their quality.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made the need to combat chronic malnutrition even more acute. Disruptions in food, health and social protection systems are expected to result in an additional 2.6 million chronically malnourished children by 2022.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents are no longer able to feed their children properly. However, nutrition is the foundation that gives children the best start in life, thereby allowoing them to escape the cycle of poverty or conflict. This is why nutrition directly impacts the achievement of at least 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, ”said Ms. Verburg, Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The royal representative said UNITLIFE has since its launching in February 2021 forloped several innovative partnerships that are working.

“Most notably, the organization has partnered with Ecobank Group, the Pan-African banking institution,” she said. 

During his speech, Mr. Ayeyemi, Chief Executive Officer of the Ecobank Group explained why private sector actors should engage with UNITLIFE:

“The private sector cannot stand aside, on the contrary, we should be the cornerstone of the development of our societies in Africa. With technology and our platforms, we can give our customers the opportunity to contribute to the fight against chronic malnutrition. We can achieve this only if we act collectively.”

At the close of the launching, Philippe Douste-Blazy, who heads UNITLIFE reminded the audience of the urgency of acting immediately.

“We are on the eve of the Generation Equality Forum, 3 months from the UN Food Systems Summit, and 6 months from the Nutrition 4 Growth summit. It is the right time to galvanize our efforts, said Mr Dousty- Blazy, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, France.”

The virtual event featured a high-level panel attended by Gerda Verburg (Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and United Nations Assistant Secretary General); Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (Executive Director, UN Women); Tala Ismail Al Ramahi (Associate Director, Office of Strategic Affairs, Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi); Ade Ayeyemi (Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Group) and Preeti Sinha (Executive Secretary, UNCDF).
 

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