Nutrition must be at the heart of the global pandemic response
Families around the world are increasingly unable to access and afford the diets necessary for a healthy life due to loss of income, rising prices and disruptions to food and health systems. In many low- and middle-income populated countries, the COVID-19 pandemic and its socio-economic effects are expected to cause a devastating increase in child malnutrition. Unfortunately, an already difficult situation is likely to worsen without urgent action.
Research released today suggests that without immediate action, an estimated 283,000 more deaths from malnutrition in young children are estimated by 2022, which equates to 258 more children dying per day. For those who survive, an additional 3.6 million stunted children will be affected by lifelong physical and cognitive impairments, and 13.6 million more will be wasted with a high risk of death.
Research from the Standing Together for Nutrition (ST4N) consortium, published today in Natural food, predicts that an additional 141 million people, in addition to the estimated 3 billion, cannot afford healthy diets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the proportion of the population who cannot afford even half the cost of a healthy diet in the 63 countries modeled is expected to have increased from 43% to 50% in 2020 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. .
Dr. Saskia de Pee, from the United Nations World Food Program, says: “The new projections of malnutrition are a wake-up call. Faced with loss of income associated with high food prices, millions of vulnerable families are at risk of becoming malnourished. Closing the accessibility gap and ensuring good nutrition for all – especially children, adolescents and pregnant and breastfeeding mothers – is crucial for saving lives today and ensuring the future health and development of families and families. nations. Good nutrition today will determine whether the consequences of COVID-19 will be felt for months, years or decades to come. “
Laurent Haddad, Executive Director of GAIN and co-organizer of ST4N, said: “The immediate impact of the pandemic on the lives of young children has set the nutrition clock back by at least ten years. But it also threatens to shape a child’s future trajectory, making them less likely to survive the next illness, less likely to do well in school, and more likely to live in poverty as adults. The widespread economic downturn means the poorest have become even poorer and the number of people struggling to access nutritious food is increasing every day. It is absolutely preventable: we have the tools and the solutions. We now need bold investment and action. It’s time to integrate nutritional action into every response to COVID-19. “
Dr. Saskia Osendarp, Executive Director of the Micronutrient Forum and co-organizer of ST4N, said: “The findings of the ST4N consortium clearly show that an unprecedented nutritional crisis is looming, especially with the acceleration of the COVID-19 pandemic in many low- and middle-income countries. . 13.6 million more children are at risk of acute malnutrition, and 3.6 million more children may be stunted in 2022. This will have an eternal impact on their lives, families and countries, and as in any crisis, women and children are disproportionately affected. The future of an entire generation is in danger. The response to COVID-19 must build resilience and nutrition or could face an additional US $ 44 billion in lost economic productivity due to these additional cases of child malnutrition. There are solutions to correct the situation – let’s stand together for nutrition.
We risk losing a decade of hard-won gains in the global fight against malnutrition – and economic productivity losses estimated at $ 44.3 billion – if we fail to address the looming global malnutrition crisis. Spending projections suggest that official development assistance for nutrition-related sectors will not return to 2019 levels until 2030, at the earliest. And even then, that will not be enough. ST4N research contains concrete recommendations for action by different stakeholders, including governments, donors, civil society, to improve access to nutrition and greater gender equality.
Source: Together for Nutrition Consortium