Nutrition

Today, 45% of all child deaths are attributable to malnutrition – that is nearly 3 million preventable deaths each year. Acute food shortages linked to increased episodes of illness and infectious disease can rapidly lead to severe acute malnutrition (SAM), also known as wasting (low weight-for-height), while chronic poor energy intake associated with poor hygiene and sanitation are the primary causes of stunting (low height-for-age). Micronutrient deficiencies (vitamin A, zinc, iron, etc.) have been shown to lead to more frequent infections, reduce children’s ability to combat diseases and impair long-term mental capacity.

The first 1,000 days, from the time of conception to the first two years of a child’s life, are a critical period of vulnerability and opportunity in child health.  This is the window when children have nutritional needs greater than at any other time of their lives and also the greatest vulnerability to malnutrition and infection. The 2013 Lancet series on maternal and child nutrition highlights that in terms of mortality reduction alone, management of SAM, zinc supplementation, and optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices across the first 1,000 days period are among the most impactful, life-saving nutrition-specific interventions.

The Office of the UN Special Envoy works with the nutrition community to coordinate existing financing and mobilize further resources to achieve the 2025 World Health Assembly nutrition targets, two of which are also Sustainable Development Goal targets. The generation of new costing data and financing scenarios by the World Bank and the Results for Development Institute in the spring of 2016 will be critical to fill financing gaps from a variety of sources, including the private sector and innovative financing mechanisms.

With the common goals of reducing wasting and stunting as part of the 2025 nutrition agenda and Sustainable Development Goal agenda, the Office of the Special Envoy will continue to support integrated nutrition and child health programming to reach the most vulnerable women and children. We have identified the potential of integrating nutrition into existing platforms delivering malaria prevention commodities, family planning resources, and community health workforces practicing integrated community case management. There will be a special focus on strengthening existing public-private partnerships for nutrition and creating new public-private partnerships using these existing delivery platforms and others to deliver nutrition commodities and services.