Media Center

Press Release


  September 13, 2007

The Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations (UN) signed an agreement today paving the way for both organizations to work together to combat hunger and malnutrition in children, and to strengthen response mechanisms during social and natural disaster emergencies in the region.

During the signing ceremony at OAS headquarters in Washington, the Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, reiterated that the regional body is committed to combat this and other problems such as the inequalities to the access of education and health, which also affect the poorest sectors of the region.

“The issue of malnutrition in children is a drama that should not occur in any part of the world, even less in our region, where we have the resources and the regional revenue to prevent it from happening,” Insulza pointed out.

The head of the OAS emphasized that “this is not a poor continent; this region has per capita revenue close to the global average, and nevertheless we still have an enormous amount of people that suffer from hunger.”

The Regional Director of the UN World Food Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean, Pedro Medrano, said that both organizations “have many opportunities to work together and support the countries of the region to achieve the Millennium Development Goal No. 2—to reduce by half the number of people suffering from hunger.”

According to studies by the World Food Programme and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) , some nine million children under the age of five suffer from chronic malnutrition in the region. The problem is principally centered in the indigenous populations, where chronic malnutrition can affect in some cases up to 70 or 80 percent of children.

The last OAS General Assembly, held in Panama in June of this year, entrusted the member countries to place malnutrition in children as a priority issue in their respective agendas.

The Chairman of Argentina’s White Helmets Commission, Gabriel Fuks, who also participated in today’s event, underscored the OAS Secretary General’s efforts in this area, noting that “beyond his role, there is a man that has understood the necessity to dynamize, to give flexibility, to understand the new realities and to incorporate all those tools that can be useful to this complex and changing world that we live in.”

Reference: E-218/07