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Undernutrition – The Unfinished Agenda

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6th June marked the opening of a new chapter in nutrition. Two days before leaders from across the globe meet in London to share their commitments for radical action at the Nutrition for Growth high level event, The Lancet published a new Series of papers containing the strongest evidence to date that urgent progress on nutrition can and must take place.

Together, the 2013 Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Nutrition provides a road map that guides the reader through the most updated evidence on: 1) the current state of nutrition globally; 2) specific interventions to address the immediate causes of malnutrition; 3) opportunities for relevant sectors to make their approaches more sensitive to improved nutrition; and 4) strengthening political will and creating an enabling environment to translate decisions into sustainable, effective actions.

At the launch event, Dr David Nabarro, Coordinator of the SUN Movement urged the nutrition community to understand the implications of the new findings for policy and implementation. In particular, his remarks raised a few thought-provoking questions.

If we could shift our thinking from a focus on preventing mortality to a focus on human potential and capital, what would the evidence tell us about how we can enhance the contributions individuals make to their communities and countries through improving nutrition?

Where would the debate take us if we looked more closely at issues of empowering households and women to ensure access to services and resources, not just delivery of services?

Also on 6th June, the World Bank announced projections that will nearly triple its direct financing for maternal and early childhood nutrition programs in developing countries in 2013-14 to $600 million, up from $230 million in 2011-12.

This news sets a very encouraging tone for other key upcoming events, including the Nutrition for Growth Event on 8th June and a civil society gathering to sustain the momentum on 10th June in Washington, DC.

SUN Focal Point Ferew Lemma of Ethiopia at Lancet Series launch in London

Dr. Marie Ruel (IFPRI), Dr. David Nabarro (SUN Movement Coordinator) and Anna Taylor (DFID) sit together and listen to a country presentation from Ethiopia. An illustration of countries in the lead with alignment by a range of supporters.

Related Links:

  • (45 minutes in) Dr. David Nabarro talks about the incredible return on investment and political commitment to nutrition
  • (3.10 minutes in) Mark Doyle discussed The Lancet Series findings

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