November 06, 2018

$1bn to improve health and nutrition of the world's poorest children

A young child gets a medical examination in Burkina Faso

Photo credit: Global Financing Facility

New funding pledged today will help to give millions of children a better start in life and the opportunity to go to school and learn.

Good health and nutrition are crucial if children are to get the best start in life and go on to do well at school and beyond.

But many kids and adolescents in some of the poorest parts of the world are being left behind when it comes to those basic needs.

Today more than $1 billion was pledged to help change that. It will be used to support up to 50 countries with the greatest health and nutrition needs to save and improve the lives of millions by 2030.

“Healthy women, children and adolescents contribute to a virtuous cycle,” said Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which donated $200 million to the Global Financing Facility (GFF) at a replenishment conference in Oslo, Norway.

“With health comes the ability to go to school and learn, which helps people prosper as adults, who are then able to raise empowered children who continue the cycle. That’s why the GFF is such a great investment.”

Healthy and well-nourished children in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo credit: Global Financing Facility

A co-host of the conference was Burkina Faso, which reaffirmed its commitment to allocate at least 15% of its annual budget to improve health.

Theirworld's Global Youth Ambassadors - a network of young activists campaigning in more than 80 countries - wrote to Burkina Faso's health ministry ahead of the Oslo conference.

While welcoming the significant steps towards improving the lives of millions of children and women each year, they said there should be "significantly increased prioritisation of early childhood development at the replenishment".

The Global Youth Ambassadors called for countries to invest in early years support, including for play and two years of free pre-primary education - and for international donors to spend 10% of health and education aid on the under-fives.

Burkina Faso was one of several new investors in GFF. Others included the European Commission, Cote d'Ivoire, Denmark, Qatar, Germany and Japan. They joined existing funders such as Norway and the United Kingdom.

Health and nutrition are particularly vital for newborns and children under five. That's when 90% of brain development happens, shaping their future prospects at school and in adult life.

Theirworld's #5for5 campaign has been calling for more investment in early childhood development, including two years of free, quality pre-primary education for every child.

With the commitments announced today, a total of $1.005 billion has been raised for the GFF's 2019-2023 replenishment period, which aims to raise S$2 billion in total to expand to reach 50 countries.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said: “Today there is great hope that the world’s poorest countries can build healthy, vibrant futures where no woman, child or youth is left behind."

Theirworld’s work on early childhood development is supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

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