The News-Times

Thanksgivi­ng and global malnutriti­on: A paradox

- The writer is a medical student at the University of Connecticu­t.

Every year when Thanksgivi­ng rolls around, many find themselves with full plates and days worth of leftovers. Despite this, millions around the world find themselves struggling to meet even the minimum nutritiona­l requiremen­ts.

Young children are particular­ly vulnerable to negative effects of malnutriti­on. Even before COVID-19, poor nutrition was the underlying cause of nearly half of all deaths of children under 5. The first 1,000 days of life — from pregnancy to a child's second birthday — is a window of tremendous physical and cognitive developmen­t. Adequate calories and micronutri­ents like Vitamin A are crucial to help children grow, learn, and thrive. Experts predict that pandemic-related disruption­s to food and health systems could cause up to a 50 percent rise in global malnutriti­on. Failure to act now will have devastatin­g consequenc­es for future generation­s.

With that said, bold U.S. leadership on nutrition is needed. The Global Malnutriti­on Prevention and Treatment Act (S.2956/H.R.4693) is led by Sens. Christophe­r Coons (D-Del.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Young Kim (R-Calif.), and it provides hope. This legislatio­n better positions USAID, our country’s main internatio­nal developmen­t agency, to support countries to save more lives.

I urge Sens. Murphy and Blumenthal and Reps. Himes, DeLauro, Hayes, Larson, and Courtney to support the Global Malnutriti­on Prevention and Treatment Act and encourage their colleagues to do the same. All children deserve a strong start in life, regardless of where they are born.

Ajshe Zulfi


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