In his new role Mr. Khan will focus on supporting child nutrition to end stunting across the region.
“I am delighted to become an Ambassador for UNICEF in South Asia. I hope my messages on the importance of children’s nutrition will urge parents, families, and leaders at all levels to support and adopt proven services and nutrition practices that will help children grow and develop to their full potential,” Khan said.
“Child stunting remains one of the greatest development challenges to South Asia. Stunted children have stunted bodies, stunted brains, and stunted lives. Compared with children who are not stunted, stunted children have poorer cognitive development, often enroll later in school, complete fewer grades, and learn less – leading to reduced productivity and income-earning in adult life” he added.
After sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia has the highest number of under-five deaths in the world with 2.3 million in 2011. Across the region nearly 40 per cent of children under the age of five are stunted because of chronic undernutrition and an estimated 28 per cent of children are born with low birth weight, largely due to women’s poor nutrition before and during pregnancy.
“With the immense respect that Aamir Khan commands across South Asia, we are convinced that Aamir will make a lasting difference in the fight against child stunting, potentially the biggest threat to children’s growth and development in this part of the world,” said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia.
During his visit to Nepal, Mr. Khan took part in the launch of the “1,000 Golden Days” national nutrition campaign. The most crucial time to meet a child’s nutritional needs is during the first 1,000 days from conception to the child’s second birthday. Proven and effective interventions during this time can prevent malnutrition and drastically reduce the prevalence of stunting.
Aamir Khan becomes UNICEF Ambassador as the organization celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC has inspired domestic legislation to respect, protect and fulfil child rights in all eight countries of South Asia, as well as the creation of policy and national development plans for their implementation. Yet, pervasive poverty and disparities prevent millions of children in South Asia from living in dignity, reaching their potential and making choices about their own future.
UNICEF South Asia is marking the 25th anniversary of the CRC with “Generation@25” a child rights campaign focused on decreasing stunting in India, improving girls’ education in Afghanistan, ending open defecation in Nepal, and increasing birth registration in Bangladesh. The campaign’s link is www.generation25.org.