5th birthdays deserve to be true celebrations
Marc Van Ameringen has been Executive Director of GAIN (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition) since 2004.
As a parent, I never questioned whether my two children would survive to their fifth birthday. Why should other parents have to?
Many children globally do not even get the chance to celebrate their fifth birthday. Lack of access to nutritious foods is one important reason. If children eat well and have the proper nutrients fueling them, they are much more likely to survive and thrive in their early years and grow up to their full potential.
At GAIN (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition), we focus on strengthening child survival through increasing access to affordable nutritious foods by poor families in more than 30 countries.
We work with governments, UN agencies, and NGOs but also with companies and non-profit global venture funds, to enhace the nutritional value of foods eaten by the poor and to increase both the supply and demand of these foods. We do this through large scale fortification programs, improving infant and young child feeding practices and products, and identifying better agricultural practices. Together we ensure that these foods are available, accessible and affordable either through public systems or through the market, to those who need them most.
Many of the programs we support focus on improving nutrition during the 1,000 day window from conception to a child’s second birthday, when the right nutrition is critical for future development and growth. Our goal is to increase the availability of solutions such as nutrient-rich cereal-based complementary foods and multi-nutrient supplements that families can add to the foods they prepare for their children. These fortified nutritious foods are complements to breast milk starting at age 6 months and are an important low-cost and proven way to boost child survival.
The "Future Fortified" campaign we launched in the US last year will also contribute to efforts to improve child survival. It aims to help millions of women and children around the world gain access to the essential nutrients they need to lead healthy, enriched lives through increasing political will and financial resources for our programs.
GAIN is turning 10 this year, and we are extremely proud to be contributing towards improving nutrition for over 610 million people worldwide, more than half of whom are mothers and children.
We applaud USAID for launching the “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday” campaign to give every child the chance to celebrate their 5th birthday. And we look forward to continuing to support the US government to make 5th birthdays globally true celebrations.
For more information about the “Every Child Deserves a 5th Birthday” campaign - please go to 5thBDay.usaid.gov, follow #5thBDay on Twitter, and like 5thBDay on Facebook.