CARE’s Helene Gayle Speaks at World Affairs Council of Atlanta Conference on Global Hunger

“One in six children in developing countries is malnourished,” says Helene Gayle, M.D., M.P.H., president and CEO of CARE USA. “We know what that means in terms of leaving them vulnerable to infections, poor growth and poor developmental functions.” Twenty million children worldwide, she says, have had their growth stunted by inadequate nutrition, while another 104 million are significantly underweight.

Gayle offered these startling statistics while moderating a panel on childhood hunger at the Atlanta Summit on Global Health and Hunger: Focus on Food and Nutrition Security, a collaborative project between CARE, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the World Affairs Council of Atlanta. For the second year in a row, the summit brought together health care workers, business leaders, nonprofit directors and government officials from around the globe to share solutions for ongoing health problems in the developing world.

Helene Gayle, President and CEO, CARE

Helene Gayle, President and CEO, CARE

The World Affairs Council of Atlanta — a nonprofit, nonpartisan affiliate of Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson School of Business — provides a public resource for research, expertise and debate on international issues. As a member of the Washington, D.C.–based World Affairs Councils of America, the Atlanta council has access to a variety of innovative programs and a vast network of international leaders. It was founded with support from a number of sources including  The Coca-Cola Company, UPS, and Eric and Barbara Joiner, and continues to receive support from those entities and other member companies such as Crawford & Company, SunTrust Banks, The Home Depot,  CNN, and others. The Atlanta Summit on Global Health and Hunger was supported by grants from The Coca-Cola Company, the UPS Foundation, Cargill, AGCO and BMO Harris Bank.

An Atlanta resident, Gayle was previously honored by Georgia State with the 2009 Ethics Advocate Award from the Robinson College of Business. She spent 20 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during which time she chaired the Obama administration’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and recently joined The Coca-Cola Company’s board of directors. She previously directed the HIV, Tuberculosis and Reproductive Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

We know what works, Gayle told the World Affairs Council audience, in terms of medical and nutritional interventions for people in the developing world. The main obstacle, she said, is inspiring the sort of “broad behavior changes” that will make those improvements possible. And the stakes are too high not to take these issues seriously.

“Hunger contributes to a third of all global child deaths. Every five seconds a child dies from hunger-related disease,” Gayle says. “Malnutrition really does hit children hardest.”