Maternal and child nutrition is a key driver for sustainable development, yet about 155 million children worldwide are still stunted (children below average height for their age). According to the 2008 Lancet Maternal and Child Undernutrition Series “more than a third of child deaths and 11% of the total diseases burden worldwide are due to maternal and child undernutrition.”
More recent estimates released in May 2017 by UNICEF, WHO, and World Bank suggest that number of children under 5 stunted has decreased from 254.2 million in 1990 to 154.8 million in 2016. While this a great progress in the last 26 years, 154.8 million stunted children is still a staggering number.
Source: WHO, UNICEF, World Bank
It’s imperative that governments around the world prioritize maternal and child health. With high political commitment and right polices and by empowering and educating women, countries hold great potential in preventing stunting and scaling up nutrition. Without adequate support malnourished child may face life-threatening conditions caused by stunting, wasting, or both. Although undernutrition is a preventable cause many countries still haven’t prioritized it in their public health agenda.
There are various organizations fighting hunger and malnutrition and raising awareness on the issues of maternal and child nutrition, including 1,000 Days, GAIN, Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Zero Hunger Challenge (launched in 2012 by then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon) and many others.
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