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New brief: Nutrition in Universal Health Coverage

  |   SUN UN Network

The brief provides the reader with information and key messages to transform health systems towards the integration of essential nutrition actions as an important component for achieving quality universal health coverage (UHC). It reinforces the understanding that malnutrition in all its forms threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Six concrete steps are proposed to integrate nutrition-related interventions into national health systems, which will improve the coverage and quality of essential nutrition actions, leaving no one behind.

This brief is intended for stakeholders involved in national health systems, nutrition action and UHC, including decision-makers in government ministries, as well as community leaders, members of civil society organizations and United Nations System agency representatives, among others. It calls on them to engage in global discussions on UHC; make policy and financial commitments for the integration of nutrition interventions into national UHC plans; and to progressively expand the list of available nutrition actions as more resources become available.

Good nutrition is fundamental for achieving the right to health, embodied in article 25 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No country can achieve universal health coverage (UHC) without investing in essential nutrition actions, and good nutrition for all cannot be achieved without UHC.

Malnutrition in all its forms significantly increases the risk of infectious diseases such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles and tuberculosis; noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes; and maternal and neonatal deaths. The cost of treating malnutrition and nutrition-related diseases is significant, but losses to the wider economy are even larger, amounting to almost USD 3.5 trillion annually. Thus, integrating essential nutrition actions into health systems is foundational to meeting people’s health needs and achieving UHC.

The brief was developed by the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development of the WHO in collaboration with the SUN Movement; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; DFID; UNICEF; ENN Online; Save the Children; World Vision; 1,000 Days and the No Wasted Lives coalition.

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• Nutrition in Universal Health Coverage – English

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