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Nutrition Forum in Mali ends with strong commitments to make nutrition a political and a financial priority

  |   SUN Country Network, SUN Lead Group and Secretariat, SUN UN Network

© UNICEF Mali/Dicko/2019

The second National Forum for Nutrition closed in Bamako, with the strongest commitment of the Republic of Mali and other stakeholders, to ensure nutrition is a political and financial priority – in response to a call to action by a range of world-renowned nutrition champions and leaders, including the Vice President of Côte d’Ivoire, H.E. Daniel Kablan Duncan, the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E Jakaya M. Kikwete and the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, Ms. Gerda Verburg.

The three-day Forum, held from 23 to 25 July, brought together key nutrition stakeholders, including policymakers, technical and financial partners, researchers, technical executives, regional and local actors, agribusiness processors, consumer associations, international organizations and civil society. The theme of the Forum, “Making nutrition a political and financial priority”, highlights the need for increased investments in promoting nutrition and health, particularly for children starting at the earliest age.

The high-level opening ceremony saw strong pleas for renewed, coordinated and scaled up nutrition efforts, with important commitments made by the Republic, such as a doubling of financial investment towards nutrition and the integration – for the first time – of nutrition into Mali’s National Development Plan, as announced by the Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, H.E. Dr. Boubou Cissé. “You have challenged the Government and I wish to reassure you of our strong commitment to nutrition in Mali,” he stressed.

One in four children in Mali suffer from chronic malnutrition, while one in ten suffer from acute malnutrition, with severe economic consequences: the annual costs associated with chronic malnutrition are estimated at 265.5 billion FCFA, or 4.06 per cent of the total GDP. To boost resilience, strengthen growth and ensure the best possible start and trajectory in life for all, investments in nutrition – the country’s human capital – is essential.

© UNICEF Mali/Dicko/2019

This Forum took into account the recommendations of the first Forum, held in 2010, to chart the road ahead. Plenary discussions, panel debates and workshops, on topics such as national, regional and community-level nutrition efforts, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder partnerships, the importance of leadership, at every level. The sharing of experiences and good practice of other countries, including Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Senegal, was an important feature.

Looking ahead, coherence will be essential for lasting results.  “I am very proud of you, Mali, this Forum is a key step in the fight against malnutrition,” stressed Ms. Gerda Verburg, at the closing ceremony. “However, as important as this Forum may be, what happens after is even more important,” she urged each and every participant to consider.


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