The Micronutrient Initiative (MI), together with the Indo-Canadian Ottawa Business Chamber and the Canada-India Parliamentary Association, explored the connection between improved nutrition and economic growth in India, implications for Canada and the global economy in Ottawa at an evening reception on Parliament Hill.
“India has one of the world´s most dynamic economies,” said MI President Venkatesh Mannar. “Yet there is one thing that threatens to hold the country back – malnutrition. One in two Indian children suffers from undernutrition, which effects their health, cognitive capacity and productivity, decreasing their ability to contribute to their families and communities and reach their potential as future members of a strong workforce.”
The evening included parliamentarians as well as representatives from business, civil society and non-government organizations who came together to learn from leading experts in nutrition about India´s malnutrition rates and the implications on health, development and productivity.
“Canada has benefited enormously from our strong Indo-Canada community,” said speaker Patrick Brown, MP Barrie and co-chair of the Canada-India Parliamentary Association. “Canada´s relationship with India grows stronger every year, with both countries commitment to increasing annual bilateral trade. A strong, healthy and productive India will not only benefit its people but will help to ensure a more stable and healthy global economy, which is good for Canadians, too.”
Undernutrition accounts for 45% of child deaths annually. For those children who do survive, undernutrition can lead to irreversible conditions such as stunting, with weak bodies more susceptible to illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.
“As a doctor, I am familiar with the long-term consequences that under-nutrition has on child,” said the Honourable Dr. Asha Seth, Canada´s first Indo-Canadian female Senator. “Our government has taken the steps to make Canada a world leader in the supply of micronutrients to children in vulnerable regions. We have done this through our support of organizations like the Micronutrient Initiative that work to eliminate the physical and intellectual deficiencies caused by malnutrition by providing cost-effective delivery of essential nutrients to vulnerable populations.”
MI, with support from the Government of Canada through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development and other donors, works with the Government of India, State governments, Indian NGOs and the private sector on programs to reduce micronutrient deficiencies. These programs work to save lives and improve the health of India´s most vulnerable and hardest to reach, especially women and children.
“Great strides have been made to successfully reduce stunting and other results from malnutrition but we know that more work must be done for India and its next generation,” Mannar said. “We must work together, across sectors, to achieve greater impact and help India meets its full potential at home and on the world stage – which everyone wants to see.”