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Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA – The Canadian Minister of International Development, Ahmed Hussen, conducted a significant diplomatic mission to the African Union, underscoring Canada’s commitment to fostering robust development partnerships in Africa. During this visit, Minister Hussen engaged in discussions aimed at bolstering cooperation on crucial development initiatives, including addressing malnutrition across the continent.

The Minister, was accompanied by H.E. Minata Samaté Cessouma, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, when he visited Kirkos Health Centre, Addis Ababa to witness the delivery of life-saving vitamin A capsules to children under the age of five. This visit underscored the tangible impact of Canada’s development assistance and highlights the collaborative efforts between Nutrition International, the Canadian government, and the African Union in addressing malnutrition.

Nearly half of all children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from vitamin A deficiency. In countries where vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem, supplementing children aged six months to five years with two doses of vitamin A every four to six months can reduce their risk of death by up to 12 percent. The vitamin A supplementation program in partnership with UNICEF, funded by Canada, will reach a significant milestone in 2024, with Nutrition International set to deliver its 14 billionth capsule. This partnership has contributed to saving the lives of over seven million children under the age of five worldwide.

“We are honored to have hosted Minister Hussen and the Commissioner Samate during this critical visit,” said Banda Ndiaye, Nutrition International, Deputy Regional Director for Africa. “Their visit reaffirms the importance of our shared commitment to combating malnutrition and advancing sustainable development in Africa. the visit underscores the critical role of evidence-based interventions in improving nutrition outcomes.”

Progress towards ending malnutrition in Africa calls for sustained partnerships and commitment. While some countries have made significant strides in child survival, there is still much work to be done, with under-five mortality rates in Africa nearly double the global average. Vitamin A supplementation remains a cornerstone intervention, proven to be cost-effective and impactful in reducing child mortality and illness.

The Government of Ethiopia has been a steadfast partner in strengthening its health systems. Since 2007, Nutrition International has provided vital support to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health in areas such as vitamin A supplementation, aiming to alleviate the effects of vitamin A deficiency and improve child health outcomes.

As African leaders prepare for the second African Union Decade of Action (2024-2033), there is an opportunity to prioritize vitamin A supplementation as a cornerstone of child survival efforts. By strengthening health systems and sustaining interventions, African nations can significantly reduce child mortality and ensure the well-being of future generations.