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Swine flu not the only threat needing action

Published 04/01/2010

The swine flu pandemic that swept the globe in 2009 showed the world can respond quickly to a global health threat - even in the midst of a recession.

Why can't the same political will be mustered for childhood malnutrition which, although easily preventable and treatable, kills a child every six seconds?

Right now, international funding for malnutrition comes to €250m (less than it cost to produce the Avatar film), less than 1/30th of what is needed.

Inadequate funds to fight malnutrition and other neglected diseases were among the Top 10 worst crises of 2009 which were witnessed by emergency medical organisation Medecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Every year since 1998, this 'Top 10' list is drawn from MSF's activities in close to 70 countries, where our medical teams witnessed some of the worst conditions.

Themes in 2009 include governments stopping aid organisations delivering live-saving assistance in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Sudan, and failure to guarantee safety for civilians in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia.

MARC DUBOIS

Executive director, MSF (UK and Ireland), Dublin

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