Cheap vitamin supplements could save the lives of thousands of kids each year: report

A vitamin supplement that costs just $1.20 per child, could save the lives of more than 100,000 children under the age of five who die every day due to malnutrition, says a new World Vision report released today. 

Issued in the lead up to World Food Day, the report, The Best Start: Saving Children's Lives in Their First 1,000 Days, shows that when babies and children do not receive the right food and nutrients in the first 1000 days of their lives, it can lead to irreversible health problems and often death. 

''More than 7,500 children under the age of five die every day because of malnutrition. That’s the equivalent to eight buses, fully loaded with children, crashing every hour killing everyone onboard,” World Vision Australia spokesperson Martin Thomas said. 

"Unfortunately, many of these kids are dying right now in the Horn of Africa. 

“But World Vision’s new report shows we have the know-how and resources to stop kids dying from malnutrition. It also says the solutions are relatively cheap and straight forward. 

"For example, vitamin A deficiency kills almost 500,000 children a year and causes blindness. Yet the vitamin can be provided to 80 per cent of children in developing countries for just $1.20 per child per year. 

“The report says if we focus on simple interventions like improving access to nutritious food, education about exclusive breast-feeding and pre and postnatal care for mothers, we can save lives.” 

The report suggests action needs to be taken by world leader to reduce child deaths, but that communities must also be included in the solutions. 

“Most health planning, according to the report, takes place at the national and district levels, without determining the actual needs at the family and community levels,” Mr Thomas said. 

“But from World Vision’s experience in the field, good nutrition that saves lives is delivered in the home. 

“In 2000, world leaders pledged through the Millennium Development Goals to reduce child deaths by two thirds by 2015. We can achieve this goal but we need a concerted effort from world leaders to bridge the gap between pledges and delivering programs to families and communities.” 

As part of its campaign to reduce child deaths, World Vision also recently released an animated video that draws inspiration from the classic Peter Pan fairytale to show why the right food and nutrients are so important for a child during its first 1,000 days of life, from a foetus to the age of two years. 

The animation has already received more than 4000 YouTube hits in only two weeks. 


Media enquiries: for copies of the report and/or to arrange interviews, please contact Martin Thomas on 0400 454 695 or World Vision Australia media officer Sacha Myers on 0457 926 018. 

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