This is a recording of the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and Columbia University’s Institute for Human Nutrition (IHN) panel discussion about addressing the global crisis of malnutrition, which took place September 10, 2008 at the Riverside Church in New York City. The program was moderated by Dr. Ron Waldman, Professor of Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Team Leader for Pandemic Preparedness and Response at the United States Agency for International Development. The panelists included Biraj Patnaik, Principle Advisor, Office of the Commissioners to India’s Supreme Court; Dr. Milton Tectonidis, MSF nutrition advisor; and Dan Maxwell, Tufts University. The discussion is preceded by a brief introduction by Richard Deckelbaum, Director, Institute of Human Nutrition, and Susan Shepherd, Medical Advisor, MSF Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines.
Malnutrition is a chronic emergency that has been all but invisible: it accounts for 11 percent of the global disease burden and contributes to 3.5 to 5 million deaths in children under five each year. Although the foundations of good early nutrition are well known and simple, affordable, and effective interventions exist -- the needs of millions of children are still ignored.
What is the relationship between food insecurity and childhood malnutrition? Why are even the best programs addressing food insecurity insufficient in responding to childhood malnutrition? In malnutrition hotspots, is food aid an emergency response or a long-term investment in the health and futures of children? At a time of rising food prices, what will be the impact on the most vulnerable children? And finally, what role can the international community play in realizing the right to good nutrition for women and children? How can we mobilize political support to address this devastating crisis?
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