Health is a foundational investment in a country’s human capital. Will a child live to celebrate her fifth birthday and be ready to attend school? Will she actually be able to learn and thrive in school? Will she grow to be an adult who can productively contribute to the society in which she lives? All of this depends on robust health and nutrition, at every stage in her life.
In 2016, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India released standards for the fortification of five staple food items: rice, wheat, salt, oil, and milk. Further to that, regulations are now in place to fortify milk variants such as low fat, skimmed, and whole milk with Vitamin A and D.
But despite its significant health benefits, and while established for more than three decades by companies such as Mother Dairy, a subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), milk fortification is not yet common practice across the Indian milk industry.
Over the last twelve months, this collaboration has enabled ten milk federations, dairy producer companies, and milk unions across the country to pilot milk fortification for their consumers. Fifteen others have initiated the process.
In a large, complex, or urgent situation, the command goes out: “All hands on deck!”
Sub-Saharan Africa faces such a clarion call now. It is the only region in the world with a growing number of children under the age of five who have stunted growth, meaning they are too short for their age. Although the number of children affected by stunting globally has decreased drastically since 1990, Africa is the only region that has seen an increase in the number of children stunted despite a decrease in the prevalence of stunting.
High rates of stunting in many developing countries pose important health threats to young children and lead to adverse later-life outcomes. Many nutrition-specific interventions that target a single dimension of causes of child undernutrition have often found limited effects. This generates the question as to whether interventions that address multidimensional and nutrition-sensitive causes of undernutrition, such as lack of knowledge and income, are more effective in bringing about healthy child development.
If, like most people, you think antimicrobial resistance is something that only doctors and scientists need to worry about, you should probably think again.
We humans have co-evolved with microbes for millions of years. Our bodies have provided a safe environment for thousands of species of microbes to flourish and in return microbes have provided us with many benefits – like protection against “bad” organisms and regulation of many of our physiological processes. We now know that a healthy, balanced microbiome is essential to human wellbeing.
Over the past 10 years Russia has made great progress in increasing the life expectancy of its people. Back in the mid-2000s, we documented the dramatic decrease in life expectancy in the post-Soviet period in the report “Dying Too Young,” due especially to high mortality among working-age men. Behavioral risk factors, such high rates of cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse, economic and social dislocation, a shift in the predominant diseases and the deterioration of the health care system, including access to it, all contributed to premature death and a dramatic shrinking of the Russian population that hadn’t been seen since World War II.
The poorest country in the Middle East and North Africa even prior to the conflict, Yemen has through violence and subsequent economic freefall landed at the epicenter of a series of interrelated emergencies that the United Nations describes as the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” This is the first of a three-part blog series on the Bank’s response in Yemen.
In July of this year, I assumed the role of Country Manager for Yemen. Much has happened in my first 100 days as CM.
In Sindh, for example, things have worsened over time, with one in two children now stunted!
The policy response to this enormous health crisis has been almost entirely centered on interventions at the household level—reducing open defecation (OD), improving household behaviors like child feeding and care practices and food intake.
A recent World Bank report, which I co-authored, suggests that a major shift is this policy focus is required for significant progress on child stunting.