Global initiative to improve first 1,000 days of a child’s life

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Double Grand Slam-winning tennis player Li Na is promoting the initiative. 

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and China Children and Teenagers’ Fund (CCTF) have launched a year-long initiative to improve nutrition and future outcomes for mothers and young children in the first 1,000 days of life.

Jointly, the WFP and CCTF will mount a series of corporate and online fundraising campaigns to highlight the importance of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life and to unite organisations and the general public around “Global Goal 2: Zero Hunger,” which aims to end hunger and improve nutrition for everyone.

Funds are being raised through online platforms such as Tencent, with all money directly supporting pregnant and breastfeeding women and their children aged 6-23 months in Nepal and China through WFP and CCTF nutrition programs.

Undernutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life – from conception to 2 years of age – can lead to irreversible long-term damage to physical growth and cognitive development. Specialized nutrition programs help build healthy bodies and minds and can lead to lifelong benefits.

“Undernutrition is a global problem – and it must be a global priority. It is drawing more and more attention from the government, the media and the public in China,” said Getachew Diriba, WFP’s representative in China. “But no single organisation can end hunger and malnutrition on its own. With the support of celebrity partners, private sectors companies and the general public, we can raise critical funds for powerful programs that are proven to change children lives and lead to better futures”.

“To prevent and treat malnutrition effectively, we need a broad approach that includes providing nutritious food, which also tackles other problems such as poor access to basic health services and inappropriate feeding and caring practices of children. We will help make sure that all mothers, no matter where they live or what language they speak, have access to the right nutrition so their young families can thrive.” said Zhu Xisheng, deputy secretary general of CCTF.

Former professional tennis player Li Na is the celebrity partner promoting this initiative. A mother herself who knows the difficulties of delivering and feeding a child, Li wants to bring people together to invest in the future of mothers and young children, especially the most vulnerable who face food insecurity. “Every contribution will make a difference,” said Li. “Please join WFP and CCTF in ensuring that for every child in Asia, the first 1,000 days mark the beginning of a life full of promise.”

According to the UN, 795 million people suffer from hunger today and poor nutrition causes nearly half the deaths of children under five (3.1 million each year). In addition to its emergency and development programs, WFP works to ensure all children receive the nutrition they need during the first 1,000 days of life. Last year, WFP supported 7.3 million children and 3 million women who needed specialized nutritional support.

Originally Published: AsiaOne.com | 29 October 2015