Malnutrition is sometimes invisible to the naked eye and perceived as a technical problem for professionals working in the health sector. When a joint AU/WFP study (2018) revealed that undernutrition in Mali was attributed to economic losses that equate to roughly 4 percent of the country’s GDP, nutrition gained its political wings. Key members of government recognized that conversations needed to go beyond vitamins and minerals and involve several stakeholders at all levels. This together with newly available data pre-empted the national forum that was held from 23 to 25 July 2019 and devoted to “Making nutrition a political and financial priority.”
While the event was organized by the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, the Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, H.E. Dr. Boubou Cissé, presided over the proceedings, sending a strong signal that nutrition is more than a health issue. The forum attracted over 400 people─ all determined to position nutrition as an engine for economic prosperity and human capital development so that Malians have a better future. Among the participants were high-profile international personalities such as the Vice President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, the former President of Tanzania, the Global Coordinator of the SUN Movement and the Director/Global Coordinator of the UN [Nutrition] Network, who each brought their experiences, insights and energy to the table. The three-day event provided an opportunity to reflect on the state of multi-sectoral nutrition governance and coordination in the country. Having benefited from two generous grants from Global Affairs Canada (GAC), starting in 2012 for specialized support in this aspect of nutrition, UNN-REACH experiences were centerpieces of those reflections.