Nutrition for Growth – one year on

nutrition for growthThe 2nd of June marked the one year anniversary of the Nutrition for Growth summit in London hosted by the UK Department for International Development, the Brazilian government and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. During the summit, over $4.1 billion was pledged to nutrition programmes until 2020, a financial commitment unprecedented and one that put nutrition in the spotlight. On the 2nd of June, an event hosted by the School of African and Oriental Studies entitled, Nutrition for Growth – one year on, reported progress made since the summit.

Nutrition has been gaining momentum on the international stage over the last few years: from the Lancet series on Maternal and Child Health in 2008, to the Scaling Up Nutrition movement begun in 2010, to the World Health Assembly targets on nutrition agreed in 2012. Dialogue at an international level about how to integrate nutrition in decision making is happening, in part spurred by the cost of malnutrition to the global economy. Ahead of the summit, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation announced that the cost of lost productivity and healthcare due to malnutrition could be as much as 5% of global GDP, or $500 per person. In November this year the Second International Conference on Nutrition will take place in Barcelona and ongoing discussions around the post-2015 development goals will likely feature nutrition in some way. Proposed goals and targets on Sustainable Development for the Post-2015 Development Agenda were released recently by the UN and include targets to reduce both stunting and wasting.

Countries, governments and donors are also making progress in tackling nutrition. In May, Canada hosted a summit on maternal, new-born and child health, with nutrition a key theme, and pledged $3.5bn between 2015 and 2020. DFID have launched nine new projects to increase spending to tackle malnutrition in some of the world’s poorest countries, including a £36 million nutrition programme in Ethiopia that will reach 3.5 million children. [Read more…]

Modelling Undernutrition

A new paper published in the Lancet in July 2012 aimed to redress the gaps in reporting child malnutrition across the world. Authors wanted to investigate the validity of a modelling approach to determining the status of child malnutrition at global, regional and national levels. Using data from a variety of sources, such as nutrition and household surveys and summary statistics from the WHO Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition, the authors calculated weight-for age Z scores. Using a Bayesian hierarchical mixture model to estimate Z score distributions, the authors investigated the validity of this model and its outcomes.

The overall findings were that globally in 2011, 314 million children under the age of five were mildly, moderately or severely stunted and 258 million were mildly, moderately or severely underweight. These results were also assessed with a view to exploring the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 1 (halving hunger and poverty by 2015). For all developing countries (141 in total), there is less than a 5% chance of meeting the MDG1 target but this chance is not evenly distributed with 61 of these countries reporting a 50-100% chance. Indeed while progress to meet MDG1 in Sub Saharan Africa would appear weak with only three countries on track, a further 13 are on track to halve poverty and 10 to halve hunger.