Correspondents: Bruno de Benoist, William S. Blaner, George Britton, Omar Dary, Frances R. Davidson, John W. Erdman, Jr., Tracey Goodman, Philip Harvey, Richard F. Hurrell, Rolf D. W. Klemm, Donald S. McLaren, Regina Moench-Pfanner, Christine Northrop-Clewes, Vinodini Reddy, Delia Rodriguez-Amaya, Ram Kumar Shrestha, Noel W. Solomons, Florentino S. Solon, Alfred Sommer, Andrew Tomkins, G. Venkataswamy, Emorn Wasantwisut, Keith P. West Jr., Yu Xiaodong, Michael B. Zimmermann. Editor: Klaus Kraemer In September, world leaders gathered in New York for the World Summit of the United Nations, to assess the progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce hunger, poverty and disease worldwide by 2015. Undernutrition contributes 53% to mortality among children under five, and is directly related to MDG 4, which aims to reduce the mortality rate by two-thirds. More than 150 million children in the developing world are underweight due to malnutrition. East Asia has made progress and reduced the number of malnourished children from 24 to 10 million. In sub-Saharan Africa however, the situation has become worse: the number of underweight children increased from 29 to 37 million between 1990 and 2003. In his address to the world leaders the US President gave a committment to the Millennium Development Goals. This was the first mention of the MDGs by the president of the world’s largest economy, and is hence, with the committment to the Monterrey Consensus (target of 0.7% of GDP as development assistance), an important signal towards achieving the MDGs. Editorial The MDGs were also central to much of the discussion at the 18th International Congress of Nutrition, 18–23 September 2005 in Durban, South Africa. It seems that economic development alone may only slightly improve health, while possibly increasing the disparities between the rich and poor and supporting other forms of malnutrition such as overweight and obesity. Fighting malnutrition in developing countries needs a much broader approach than simply providing all macro- and micronutrients. There is no lack of available solutions, including better coverage with micronutrients, monitoring, evaluation, surveillance, social marketing and enforcement: the problem seems rather to be their consequent implementation and integration. Recardo Uauy, the new president of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences, touches the essence: “The chemical and biological sciences have provided a strong base for nutrition and have been essential in establishing nutrition as a science with public health relevance. However, these approaches are clearly insufficient to address the main challenges that confront nutrition science now in the twenty-first century. There is a pressing need to include social, economic and human rights aspects within an ethical framework, in order to define future policies that will secure the right to safe and nutritious food for all.” This issue of the Newsletter articulates that the scope of SIGHT AND LIFE has broadened beyond vitamin A, towards other vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Interactions of micronutrients are an emerging field in nutrition research. Michael Zimmermann describes potential interactions among vitamin A, iron and iodine, and highlights that a combined strategy, e.g. through salt fortification, may be the approach of choice (page 3). We are pleased to be able to bring the results of the Innocenti Micronutrient Research Report #1 to the attention of our readership (page 13). This timely report provides an evidence-based analysis of the efficacy and safety of single and multiple micronutrient supplementation for young children and mothers in developing countries. It is important to note that the results with multiple micronutrients are not as clear as with vitamin A supplementation alone. The overwhelming humanitarian response to disasters caused by the tsunamis in South-East Asia and Hurricane Katrina in the USA emphasizes the concept of the global village we live in. A paper from Helen Keller International’s tsunami relief activities highlights the importance of early provision of supplements with vitamin A and zinc as well as iron-fortified soy sauce and micronutrient mixtures (sprinkles) for reducing the risk of communicable diseases in emergency situations (page 31).
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