In September 2000, world leaders gathered at the United Nations Millennium Summit and developed a set of goals to guide international development efforts for maximum effect. Micronutrient programs are gaining increasing recognition as a quick and cost-effective way to move toward these internationally accepted goals. In fact, The World Bank suggests nutrition programmes are vital to the achievement of the goals for reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and child development, promoting gender equality, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. These goals continue to guide our work as The Micronutrient Initiative strives to eliminate hidden hunger and all its devastating effects.
Increased Investment in Micronutrient Programmes Helps Countries Reach their Millennium Development Targets
Hidden hunger initiatives can play a key role in achieving six of the eight MDGs by 2015. The World Bank's 2006 book, Repositioning Nutrition as Central to Development, recognizes food fortification in particular as a short route to development success.
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Anti-female biases in access to food, health, and care resources may result in hidden hunger, possibly reducing women's access to assets. Addressing hidden hunger empowers women more than men.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Maternal health is compromised by hidden hunger, which is associated with most major risk factors for maternal mortality. In particular, maternal stunting and iron and iodine deficiencies pose serious problems.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Hidden hunger may increase risk of HIV transmission, compromise antiretroviral therapy, and hasten the onset of full-blown AIDS and premature death. It increases the chances of tuberculosis infection, resulting in disease, and it also reduces malarial survival rates.
MI programs are designed to help achieve three of the MDGs in particular:
- MDG 4, Reduce Child Mortality: MI will reduce under-five mortality by increasing and sustaining vitamin A and zinc intake.
- MDG 2, Achieve Universal Primary Education: MI will improve children's cognitive development and educational outcomes through increased and sustained intake of iron and iodine
- MDG 5, Improve Maternal Health: MI will improve the survival and health of women by increasing and sustaining their iron, folic acid, and iodine intake and, in turn reducing the consequences of iron deficiency anaemia and of poor pregnancy outcomes.