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By Kofi A. Annan

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Extra resources for We the Children: Meeting the Promises of the World Summit for Children

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Chemical contamination of water supplies emerged as a grave concern during the 1990s. One of the most serious problems was the contamination of drinkingwater sources by naturally occurring inorganic arsenic in Bangladesh and other parts of South Asia. Arsenic does great damage to human health. The response to it has included: identifying wells that draw on contaminated aquifers and working with families to ensure that such sources are not used for drinking or cooking; providing alternative sources; and involving affected communities in the search for and management of alternative sources.

Measures to protect, promote and support breastfeeding in emergency situations are also vital. The global partnership that spurred action on vitamin A in the last years of the 1990s, with support from the Government of Canada, other donors and UN agencies, needs to be sustained. Further expansion of coverage is essential. As National Immunization Days are being phased out around the world, new ways to deliver 35 36 vitamin A to children need to be devised. Child health days, in which vitamin A is distributed as part of other interventions such as growth monitoring or routine immunization, are a promising alternative.

Undernourishment among girls and women is compounded by their lack of control over productive resources and exclusion from decision-making. Although food insecurity affects a larger portion of the rural population, lowincome and unemployed families in urban areas are also vulnerable. And in the 1990s, HIV/AIDS has devastated countless families, eroding household incomes and nutritional well-being. LESSONS LEARNED IN NUTRITION Important strategic shifts and breakthroughs occurred in addressing malnutrition in children during the 1990s, with the focus shifting towards specific low-cost interventions.

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