World Vision response to Lancet series on nutrition
Seattle, WA — The 2013 Lancet series on nutrition, launched at a number of events beginning in London:
• Found that undernutrition contributes to 45 percent of the deaths of children under the age of five — up from the 33 percent we previously believed.
• Announced a package of 10 key interventions that would dramatically reduce the impact of undernutrition, down from 13 key interventions in the 2008 series.
World Vision’s response
The new Lancet series confirms what we know from our years of working on this issue — that tackling undernutrition is both the most important long-term problem facing children, and that doing so isn’t complicated. It means making it a priority at every level. It means ensuring the success of any and all poverty-alleviation programs is measured by their impact on children’s nourishment.
• For the pregnant mother of a stunted four-year-old in Ethiopia/India, it means getting the right food while she is pregnant, it means knowing to breastfeed her baby, introducing the right food at the right time, having access to a good-quality health center when her children are unwell. It is the difference between her children surviving to the age of five so they can go to school, being able to concentrate and learn when they’re there, and being able to work, and have a healthy family of their own.
• For the government of Ethiopia/India, this means making nutrition levels in children a measure of success of all its key departments, it means ensuring health centers are staffed and stocked, health workers are hired and trained. It means doing this because they know good nutrition in children means an increase in national income. Healthy kids mean healthy economies.
• For the UK/US/Canadian government, this means making sure the money they give to other governments is spent on tackling nutrition, it means measuring the success of their global responsibilities according to whether they improve nutrition in children.
The reduced number of interventions found by the Lancet to be key to reducing the havoc caused by undernutrition is particularly welcome. The Lancet interventions are widely seen as the gold standard in tackling undernutrition, and the reduced number reflects our increasing knowledge and understanding of just how linked undernutrition is with a child’s chances at surviving — and thriving.
Undernutrition costs lives, and it ruins lives. It kills more than two million children every year, but it stunts and weakens millions more.
The Lancet series contributes to our increasing understanding of what works in tackling undernutrition. It is ultimately up to governments to ensure that conditions are right to ensure they reach children. And in countries affected by conflict and fragility, where undernutrition and its effects are worse, as World Vision’s recent report found, governments need to do even more to ensure the most vulnerable children are not left behind.
World Vision’s programs that tackle nutrition around the world adopt what we call the 7-11 approach — seven key, proven interventions for mothers and 11 for children. The Lancet series is a further validation that we’re on the right track, with this approach, and that we will see the number of children dying and the number of families suffering from the effects of undernutrition, continue to fall.
About World Vision
World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews
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