The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was created in 1946 in response to famine and disease affecting children in Europe. The goal of UNICEF, at that time, was to provide these children with food, health care, and clothing. In 1953, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) extended UNICEF’s mandate indefinitely, establishing UNICEF as a permanent fixture of the UN. The committee’s early projects included campaigns to combat and eliminate treatable mass diseases like tuberculosis, yaws, and leprosy. After the UNGA passed the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, UNICEF had an official UN document to frame its goals. In 1961, UNICEF expanded its goals beyond improving children’s health and nutrition to also include education. Around this time, the committee also developed its modern theory on aid, which promotes a holistic approach to addressing children’s needs.
Topic: Preventing and Treating Malnutrition Among Children
Since 2000, the number of children under five suffering from undernutrition has been reduced by one-third. The world has made significant strides to reduce undernutrition in children. Despite this impressive feat, in the 2019 edition of UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children, the key issue that was covered was the “changing face of malnutrition.” The report highlights that although stunting and wasting in children has declined in every continent except Africa, the other infrequently discussed dimension of malnutrition includes obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These diseases have continued to rise in every continent. The WHO warns that NCDs significantly threaten global progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, as cardiovascular disease is expected to become the leading cause of death worldwide. Beyond the external environmental factors of malnutrition, such as climate shocks, diseases, and armed conflicts, which may significantly inhibit a child’s ability to access a nutritious, healthy diet, many forms of malnutrition are often rooted in poverty and inequity. Globally, one in three children is not growing well due to malnutrition, both because of consuming insufficient quantities of food and basic nutrients and consuming too much of what their bodies do not need. Today, around 45 percent of all child deaths are traced to the cause of malnutrition. Without adequate action from UNICEF to alleviate this, a growing number of children worldwide will continue to suffer from the consequences of an unhealthy food environment.