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SCN News. 1999 Jul;(18):19-21.

Nutrition, health and human rights.



This paper presents the speech delivered by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General of WHO, on issues related to nutrition from a health and a human rights perspective. According to Brundtland, nutrition is a universal factor that both affects and defines the health of all people. It affects not only growth and physical development of a child, but also his cognitive and social development. However, inequity, poverty, underdevelopment, as well as inadequate access to food, health and care still exist which have resulted to the deaths of millions of children and left many more suffering from diseases. Poverty has also been identified as the main obstacle to the attainment of health. The existence of structural poverty and ill health eventually leads to poor development, which includes poor nutrition, poor health, and poor human rights. The impact of poverty on health is further worsened by discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, language, or religion. To address this issue, the WHO will renew their focus on the political and legal links between health and human rights. A human rights perspective provides the international community with an opportunity to support the development of public health policies and practices that promote healthy nutrition as a center of all social and economic development.

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