Partnerships to tackle malnutrition in children across Asia

On 30 August, Food Industry Asia (FIA) had its first dialogue session with Carolyn Miles, President and Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children, and her team. The objective of the meeting was to understand and explore ways of engagement and collaboration among FIA members, Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (ARoFIIN) partners and Save the Children, particularly with regard to providing improved nutrition to adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating mothers as an intervention for the first 1,000 days of a person’s life. This is also referred to as the “critical window of nutrition” – from conception through to a child’s second birthday, when a range of interventions and programmes should be introduced.

Ms Miles presented us with the work that Save the Children does across the globe, as well as in Asia more specifically, introduced the organisation’s work to prevent malnutrition, and discussed opportunities for collaboration.

Save the Children has a range of successful partnerships with the private sector, in which core competencies of companies support the work of Save the Children; inversely, companies can make these activities and contributions part of their sustainability portfolios and corporate social responsibility work, which can include employee engagement programmes.

Collaboration with locally based multinationals and SMEs, Ms Miles said, would be facilitated through the organisation’s year-old Corporate Engagement Centre in Singapore. The centre seeks to develop longstanding, mutually beneficial partnerships with companies, in order to create transformational and sustainable change for children and their families.

Ms Miles also mentioned the timely launch of a report by Save the Children, titled “Cost of Hunger: Philippines”, which reveals that the Philippine economy is losing at least P328 billion – about US$7 billion – per year, due to the impact of childhood stunting on workforce productivity and education. The report states that the combined losses due to malnutrition, calculated with data from 2013, are more than triple the cost of damage inflicted by 15 natural disasters that hit the Philippines last year.

In light of these findings and chance for potential partnerships, it is indeed important that the industry collaborate with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Save the Children, to explore possible contributions towards ending hidden hunger and tackling issues related to obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). 

Bruno Kistner is the Policy Director at Food Industry Asia (FIA).

FIA issues regular e-bulletins with analysis on relevant food and beverage industry issues across the region. To subscribe to this service, please click here