Undernutrition imposes a staggering cost worldwide, both in human and economic terms. It is responsible for the deaths of more than one-third of all deaths among children under five. It accounts for the loss of billions of dollars in foregone economic productivity and avoidable health care spending.
According to the Lancet Series on Maternal and Child in 2013, many countries are said to have the double burden of malnutrition: continued stunting of growth and deficiencies of essential nutrients along with the emerging issue of obesity. Moreover, the Lancet encourages more focus on nutrition-specific interventions and programmes which address the immediate determinants of foetal and child nutrition and development – adequate food and nutrient intake, feeding, caregiving and parenting practices, and low burden of infectious diseases. These ten high-impact nutrition-specific interventions are identified in the Framework for actions to achieve optimum foetal and child nutrition development (Lancet 2013).
In 2016, the first ever Financing Framework for Nutrition was launched by World Bank President, Jim Kim, which called for an additional USD $69.9 billion over the next 10 years to achieve four of the six World Health Assembly Targets. This is in addition to the USD $3.9 the world currently spends annually. These estimates build on figures shared at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in 2015 and make a significant contribution to framing the total size of resources required to address malnutrition.
Calls for investment continue to grow, most notably, at the groundbreaking Human Capital Summit on the opening day of the 2016 World Bank Annual Meetings. Here, the Prime Minister of Cote d’Ivoire, and Finance and Economic Ministers of Cameroon, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Pakistan, Senegal, and Tanzania pledged to improve nutrition, health and education programs for young children to dramatically reduce childhood stunting and equip tens of millions of young children with the abilities they need to succeed in a fast changing world.