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Malnutrition now affects a third of humanity. 

Malnutrition is an underlying cause in nearly half of all deaths of children under five. 

Economically, the consequence is 11% loss in gross domestic product every year in Africa and Asia. 

The double burden of malnutrition (under-nutrition and over-nutrition or obesity) affects every age, every region, every continent on this planet. 

Malnutrition and diet are by far the biggest risk factors for the global burden of disease; every country is facing a serious public health challenge from malnutrition, according to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report

But malnutrition should never be "the new normal." So why is it?

Prevention is underfunded

The 2016 Global Nutrition Report found that nutrition-related non-communicable diseases only received $50 million in donor funding in 2014 despite the fact that such diseases cause nearly half of deaths and disability ies low- and middle-income countries. In addition, only 2% of spending went on reducing undernutrition, while donor allocations to nutrition programmes are plateauing at $1 billion. 

Progress in improving nutrition is not widely celebrated or known as well as it could be

One major progress in improved nutrition for children is that the number of stunted children under five is declining everywhere except parts of Africa an Oceania. In Ghana, stunting rates have nearly halved in just over a decade. Peru and Malawi are closing in on targets on breastfeeding and reducing anaemia. 

But such progresses are only well known to the actors who make it their career and life's goal to better nutrition for the world's children. It's time progress be celebrated by the general public as well. 

We need greater political engagement and commitment 

Investment, resources and better and more data are needed if the world is to reach the Sustainable Development Goals' targets for improved nutrition.

SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

Targets:

  • By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round
  • By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons

“Where leaders in government, civil society, academia and business are committed – and willing to be held accountable – anything is possible,” said Lawrence Haddad, co-chair of the Global Nutrition Report and senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. “Despite the challenges, malnutrition is not inevitable; ultimately it is a political choice: one which we need leaders across the world to make.”

We must work together, we must do it now

Malnutrition is not inevitable. It can be improved and prevented.

Malnutrition prevention delivers $16 in returns on investment for every $1 spent. 

But we must come together, as a human race, and act now on behalf of our societies, our families, and our children. Issues such as clean water and sanitation must also be addressed to help save lives and end malnutrition. Governments, NGOs, the general public and new innovative consortiums (such as the partnership for One Goal to end malnutrition through the power of football) must must come together to tackle this global health issue together. 

We must refuse to accept that millions of children face an uncertain and unhealthy future.

And we must do it now.


The facts and figures in this post are from The Guardian "Poor nutrition now affects a third of the human race, says report". 

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