2018 Global Nutrition Report - a pressing call for combined action

2018 Global Nutrition Report - a pressing call for combined actions!

Written by: Gabrielle Fradin 

‘Progress to tackle all forms of malnutrition remains unacceptably slow’ reveals the 2018 Global Nutrition Report.

Despite progress made, the world will not reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending malnutrition by 2030. In the 2018 Global Nutrition Report, world-leading academics, researchers and government representatives call for proactive steps to comprehensively tackle the global problem. In fact, the report estimates that 56% of the burden of malnutrition will not be alleviated by 2030 if the international community does not step up its efforts.

Particularly worrying is the recorded slow decrease of stunting - indicating that a child is failing to thrive.

It's irreversible and it's what happens when a child is subjected to chronic malnutrition early on in their lives. Stunting forms a central obstacle to the economic development of the next generation. With 38% of the world’s stunted children, South Asia remains the most heavily burdened region. In Africa, although the rate of stunting has declined from 38.1% in 2000 to 30.3% in 2017, the actual number of stunted children in the region has increased. Being overwhelmingly represented in low-and-middle income countries, stunting clearly displays a strong correlation with poverty. It affects the poorest, the most remote fringes of society and the most hard-to-reach areas and stands thus at the core of endemic poverty.

Malnutrition_Stunting_Max Foundation

Stunted children have a weakened immune system. They display heightened mortality and risks of illness and are especially prone to repeated infections further weakening their natural defences. In turn, abnormal rates of morbidity generate irreversible growth failures, including cognitive and motor development impairments especially affecting school performance. Stunting quickly becomes a developmental issue given the long-term consequences of these early phenomena. In fact, childhood stunting is directly linked with reduced productivity and lower wages during adulthood.

At Max Foundation, we strive to give each child the opportunity to grow and develop to its full potential.

To achieve that we have integrated our WASH and nutrition approaches together. We understand that a healthy and safe environment with clean drinking water, safe and clean latrines as well as basic hygiene is fundamental, and yet not sufficient to ensure optimal early childhood growth. Indeed, simply breaking the faecal-oral disease pathway, which is generally seen as the main cause weakening the child’s immune system, is not enough to guarantee a baby the nutrients it needs for a healthy growth. Similarly, a single focus on nutrition will fail to effectively tackle stunting when implemented in an unsafe environment with high rates of water- and faecal-borne diseases. To prevent, treat and root-out stunting requires initiatives addressing the intergenerational characteristic of malnutrition. We therefore also specifically target women of reproductive age as well as pregnant women to ensure nutrient deficiencies are not passed on to the new generation.

Our Max Healthy Village programmes in South Asia (Sub-Saharan Africa, in development), promote stunting free villages, based on community-led action establishing clean, safe and nurturing environments for babies to grow up healthy.

In the coming three years we will reach an additional 1.3 million people and at least 30.000 children under five will have stunting reduced.

Max Foundation_Max Healthy Village_Bangladesh_Child Stunting

This nutrition-sensitive WASH approach targets local communities, entrepreneurs and local governments to holistically address the vicious circle of chronic undernutrition, effectively put an end to stunting and contribute to reaching the SDG goal set for 2030.

Read more about our Max Nutri-WASH approach and the Max Healthy Village programme here.

Last edited: 6 December 2018

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