Time for World Leaders to Act on Nutrition

WASHINGTON D.C., June 6, 2013 – Startling findings released today by the Lancet underscore the urgent need for world leaders to take ambitious, measurable action to end undernutrition at the June 8 Nutrition For Growth high-level meeting.

“Leaders must step forward with money on the table and a vision for the future, or they risk wasting an opportunity that has been decades in making,” said ACTION Director Kolleen Bouchane.  “This isn’t about aid. It’s about using our resources and knowledge to create a world where millions of children don’t die from a preventable cause.”

The new data shows undernutrition is a far larger threat than previously thought, and is now responsible for almost half of all child deaths – that’s 3.1 million children lost every year. Yet fighting the leading killer of children only receives 0.4% of the world’s overseas development assistance.  

The time is now to reverse this deadly neglect. On Saturday June 8, the governments of Brazil and the United Kingdom, along with the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, will convene decision makers, industry leaders, and private foundations at a high-level international meeting in London, just ahead of the G8 Summit, to accelerate global progress on nutrition.

“The UK and Brazil can be commended for igniting global action on nutrition,” said Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK.  “But a lasting legacy from the June 8th event is not just about financial pledges. Sustained political leadership and accountability are needed to ensure that momentum on nutrition reverberates across generations.”

We know smart investments can end undernutrition and break cycles of poverty. It has been proven that specific interventions – such as ensuring women and children can access essential vitamins and nutrients – during the 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until her child’s 2nd birthday will save lives, and prevent irreversible physical and cognitive damage from stunting children’s potential.

The new Lancet series shows that, globally, scaling up proven nutrition interventions would save 900,000 children’s lives per year, at an estimated cost of US$10 billion – but more than half this cost can be accounted for by India and Indonesia, countries that can contribute to fighting undernutrition with their own resources.

Countries highly-impacted by undernutrition in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are already driving progress on nutrition, and have committed to scaling up their nutrition programs with costed plans that need support. Advocacy organizations around the world including ACTION’s partners in the USUKCanada, Australia and France have developed realistic, ambitious, targets their governments should meet to ensure these country-led plans become reality.

“Zambia and other African nations cannot act alone to end undernutrition,” said Carol Nyirenda, Executive Director of CITAM+, ACTION’s partner based in Zambia. “We are taking the first steps, but need the world’s support to save lives and break the cycles of poverty that suppress the potential of Africa’s children and the economic growth of our countries and continent.”

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About ACTION:   
ACTION is a global partnership of advocacy organizations working to influence policy and mobilize resources to fight diseases of poverty and improve equitable access to health services. Our three main priority areas are: Ending the tuberculosis epidemic, expanding access to childhood vaccines, and scaling up political commitment on nutrition. ACTION partners work across five continents in both donor and high burden countries.

For more information, or to be connected with our global network of health advocates:

Angela Pereira
Senior Communications Associate
(+1 202) 999-9545