World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has warned that he will name and shame countries that fail to tackle the malnourishment and poor growth of their children, as part of a mission to rid the world of stunting.
He would take to the podium at the World Economic Forum in Davos every year to point the finger at governments who failed to live up to promises to tackle a scourge affecting tens of millions of children, reports the Guardian.
Kim said stunting – which refers to children with a height considerably below the average for their age – was a humanitarian disaster but also an economic issue that held back nations as malnutrition, lack of stimulation and toxic environments take their toll on children’s brain development.
“For the sake of their children but also their countries’ future prosperity in a world that increasingly needs an educated workforce with technological skills, governments must take action,” said Kim, adding that equality of opportunity was meaningless when children started with such disadvantage.
“Everyone puts all their eggs in the equality of opportunity basket. But we’re essentially lying when 25 per cent of children in the world are stunted. Inequality is baked into the brains of 25 percent of all children before the age of five. So the only way that we can realistically say there is equality of opportunity is if we bring stunting down to zero,” he said.
“My goal is to cut stunting in half. We have 14 years until 2030. We can cut stunting in half in seven years and then end stunting in the world by 2030. That is the only way we can look ourselves in the mirror and say there is equality of opportunity in the world,” he added.
Childhood stunting is a huge problem worldwide, affecting an estimated 162 million children under five in 2012. These are children whose height is considerably below the average for their age.
In India 38.7 per cent of children are stunted, in Pakistan it is 45 per cent and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo it is 70 per cent.