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OTTAWA, CANADA – MI President Joel Spicer joined Bill Gates, the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister for International Development and La Francophonie, and Ray Chambers, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals and for Malaria, along with other leaders of the Canadian development sector at a private roundtable focused on achieving the “malaria end-game” by 2025.

The decision to host the high level meeting in Ottawa is part of Canada’s efforts to ensure maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) remains a top global development priority.

“The fact that millions of women and children continue to die from preventable causes is one of the greatest symptoms of injustice and inequity in the world today,” said Spicer. “Canada’s leadership on nutrition in particular, and long-term commitment to transforming the status quo for the world’s most vulnerable women and children is a great  example of values in action – and something to be proud of.”

Spicer used the opportunity to draw linkages between malaria and undernutrition, which combine in a vicious cycle that has a huge impact on the health and survival of women and children.

“Addressing undernutrition is essential in efforts to end diseases like malaria,” Spicer said. “The cornerstone of the health system is the immune systems of the people in it. Good nutrition early in life creates healthier bodies better able to fight off and survive diseases like malaria. With over half of malaria deaths related to undernutrition – and even more due to micronutrient deficiencies – we cannot afford a single missed opportunity to integrate MNCH and nutrition efforts.”

Despite global progress to control malaria, last year close to 500,000 children died from malaria, according to the World Health Organization. Severe malaria is less common among well-nourished children, which highlights the need to address nutrition and food security in connection with malaria.

The roundtable was followed by a larger event involving Prime Minister Harper and Bill Gates in a moderated conversation that focused on the importance of nutrition and vaccines in supporting the health of the world’s most vulnerable mothers and children.

As part of his remarks, Gates highlighted the importance of low cost, high impact nutrition interventions, such as vitamin A supplementation and salt iodization.