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Promoting child nutrition in Asia

Malnutrition and stunting affect

Malnutrition and stunting affect more than 180 million children under five around the world. ©REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

MPs, parliamentary staff and members of civil society will meet in Vientiane, Laos, on 4-6 November to mobilize parliamentary action in support of child nutrition in Asia.

Organized by IPU and UNICEF, with the support of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUP) Movement, the meeting aims to raise awareness among and educate the parliamentary community on the urgent need for action on a problem affecting more than 180 million children under five around the world. Hosted by the National Assembly of the Lao People´s Democratic Republic, the gathering will address issues related to malnutrition and stunting, including the damaging effects of inaction on inadequate nutrition on the economic development of countries. Emphasis will be placed on strategies and tools parliamentarians can leverage to scale up and strengthen nutrition programmes and policies.

MPs can make a critical contribution to tackling child malnutrition through their powers to legislate, define national budgets and oversee government actions, particularly on issues concerning children.  Specifically, they can legislate on restricting the marketing of breast milk substitutes, providing maternity protection or promoting, protecting and supporting infant and young child feeding. As opinion leaders, MPs can also play a key role in educating their constituents on healthy practices. At the end of the two and a half-day discussion in Vientiane, it is expected MPs will produce an outcome document pledging to take a pro-nutrition agenda forward. The document will feed into the upcoming Parliamentary Meeting on the occasion of the Second high-level International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) that will take place in November in Rome.