By Maina Simon

Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Amref Health Africa’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) has been appointed as a member of the Scaling Up Movement (SUN) GROUP, a global initiative dedicated to eradicating all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

The movement prioritizes nutrition action and collaboration that includes supporting countries to implement policies and registration that guarantees the availability of sustainable and nutritious diets for children, adolescents, mothers and families.

Dr. Gitahi, in his role as the Kenyan representative, will join other notable global leaders in overseeing the strategic direction of SUN and implementation across the movement to accelerate and scale-up nutrition in Africa by ensuring countries meet their nutrition targets.

This appointment by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, comes at a time when Africa is witnessing increased climate-related health challenges such as malnutrition.

Climate change effects such as floods and droughts are putting at risk supplies by driving down crop yields, destroying livestock and disrupting of food, compounding conflicts and economic recession slow progress to end malnutrition.

Amref Health Africa, through its Global Corporate Strategy (2023-2030), prioritizes programming along these social determinants of health and emerging threats to effectively deliver nutrition-based health services to the most vulnerable such as women and girls – who are often the hardest hit by the effects of climate change.

In a detailed statement, Guterres noted that without good nutrition, there would be no human development. But with a country-owned multisectoral and multi-stakeholder approach, the movement will effectively tackle the challenge of malnutrition.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Catherine Russell, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director and Chair of the SUN Movement Lead Group. She said, “Malnutrition is one of the leading causes of disease and death globally — and a major threat to children.  Conflicts, crises, COVID-19, and climate change all threaten to reverse hard-won gains if we don’t get back on track.  The SUN Movement is working to raise awareness of nutrition as both a marker and a driver of sustainable development — and to spur new investment and action.  I look forward to working with these leaders to reignite a global movement to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.”

Gladys Mugambi, the acting Head of the Directorate of Health Promotion and Education in Kenya’s Ministry of Health, has also been appointed as an Ex-Officio Member of the group. This strengthens Kenya’s position in the global fight against malnutrition.