Despite malnutrition causing a third of child deaths, new research published this week highlights that nutrition programmes are chronically underfunded - with only 0.37% of total aid spent on basic interventions that are deemed to have huge benefits for children and for economic growth.
By showing strong leadership and committing its fair share of new money to the Green Climate Fund to help children adapt to the effects of climate change, the UK Government can make sure children everywhere have enough nutritious food to eat, grow up to fulfil their potential and do not pay for our past mistakes with their futures.
This focus on the very young is perhaps a natural reflex, yet we mustn't allow it to blind us to the needs of older people. As a doctor myself, and currently president of an international medical humanitarian organisation operating in emergencies around the world, I want to challenge our sense that we should always focus first on the needs of the very young in emergencies.
There are no proper words to describe the heartbreaking sight of a malnourished child. No image on TV can prepare you for the sheer lightness of their bodies, their minuscule wrists, their over-sized, slightly bulging heads; the breathtaking shock of realising that the cute baby who looks newborn is actually nearly two years old. Malnourishment is not something that enters our world very often. Ours is a place where 60 stone teenagers must be hoisted out of their homes by the local fire service because they no longer fit through their front doors. It's a place where five-year-old girls worry themselves silly about being thinner, aspiring to a 'body ideal' that's estimated to be not physically achievable by 95% of the population.
The fact remains though that we need to talk about famine. Perhaps not in the technical UN-defined sense of the word. But in the dictionary sense of the word: extreme and general scarcity of food, as in a country or a large geographical area. With so many lives potentially at stake, now is not the time to dodge the issue.
Stricken Somalians are desperate for humanitarian aid after the worst drought for decades continues to blight the south of the country, killing livest...