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World Food Day: Towards healthier populations

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The United States stands with other nations to combat global hunger and malnutrition.

Kabul, Afghanistan | Thursday, October 16, 2008 - On World Food Day, the United States stands with other nations in the world to combat global hunger and malnutrition. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has supported programs to prevent malnutrition for more than 30 years.

Last year, 850 million people around the world went to bed hungry. In the past year, prices for staple foods have increased dramatically, resulting in a global food and nutrition crisis. This crisis will exacerbate global undernutrition, and will plunge 130 million more into hunger and food insecurity.

Since mid-April, in response to President Bush's request for additional resources, the United States has provided over $1.8 billion in new emergency and development assistance to combat the food crisis. A portion of this aid has gone to Afghanistan, where the U.S. has contributed 42 percent of the aid requested in the July 9 emergency food appeal issued by the Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA). In the past year, the U.S. Government has contributed 192,000 tons of food and commodities worth $205 million to improve food security in Afghanistan.

While responding to the food crisis is a key element in combating global hunger, USAID also provides prevention assistance to combat global under-nutrition. Severe malnutrition kills, but even less severe cases increase susceptibility to and mortality from malaria, TB, and other infectious diseases. Improving the health and nutrition of those living in the poorest countries of the world is a focal point of USAID's global health and nutrition program and key to reducing crippling healthcare costs and increasing national productivity.

For more than 30 years, USAID has supported programs to prevent malnutrition, stunting, and micronutrient deficiencies. In Afghanistan, USAID currently spends about $4 million a year for nutrition programs to include infant and young child nutrition, micronutrient supplementation and nutrition in the context of epidemics and emergencies. USAID is committed to working with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and local organizations to advance nutrition, decrease hunger, and give all children the best possible start in life.