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London, 13 November 2014
A multi-stakeholder partnership has released the first-ever comprehensive narrative on global health and country-level progress toward reducing malnutrition everywhere.
The Global Nutrition Report (GNR), produced by an independent expert group guided by a group of stakeholders consisting of countries, UN agencies, civil society organizations, donors, and businesses, provides a comprehensive global profile and country profiles on nutrition for each of the United Nations’ 193 member states, and includes specific progress for each country.
“By providing a never seen before picture of global- and country-level progress in all forms of nutrition, the report marks a historical turning point in the fight to end child malnutrition,” said Glen Tarman, International Advocacy Director for Action Against Hunger.
“The Global Nutrition Report offers evidence that new targets for 2030 could be significantly more ambitious. With further commitments and political leadership, accelerated progress can be made.”
A centerpiece of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in Rome, the GNR is an outcome of the Nutrition for Growth Summit in London in 2013. It was compiled to create a one-stop composite of the often fragmented and disparate information available on global nutrition and to fill in some critical gaps in knowledge and data collection.
The report is ambitious in its breadth, covering nutrition status outcomes, program coverage, and underlying determinants, such as food security and water, sanitation and hygiene, resource allocations, and institutional and policy transformations. It discusses the pressing need for strong leadership across society - in government, science, civil society, private foundations, and business - to accelerate the reduction of malnutrition.
“Action Against Hunger has been calling for new 2030 levels of ambition on undernutrition to be agreed,” said Tarman.
“We want to see a Sustainable Development Goal with an undernutrition target to reduce the number of malnourished children under five years of age affected by stunting and wasting by at least 50 per cent, as the absolute minimum that states should agree.”
The data are derived from an array of malnutrition indicators—from undernutrition in young children to nutrition-related non-communicable diseases in adults, and from stunting to obesity—and include the drivers that often lead to malnutrition. Country profiles provide dashboards of more than 80 indicators on nutrition outcomes, determinants, programme coverage, resources, and political commitment.
Almost every country in the world, rich or poor, faces a serious public health risk due to malnutrition, either from undernutrition, obesity, or micronutrient deficiencies. The cost of poor nutrition is high: premature death, stressed health systems, and a severe drag on economic progress. While economic growth can help reduce malnutrition, boosting an economy is not enough to rid a country of malnutrition, and often makes overweight and obesity more likely.
The benefits of improved nutrition cascade through the lifecycle and across generations, which is why the costs of failing to act are tragically high for all countries and why nutrition goals must be strongly embedded in the Sustainable Development Goal framework, post 2015.
This requires developing stronger accountability mechanisms with better data, more transparency, and stronger feedback systems as a vital step toward intensifying commitment and making sure these mechanisms improve nutrition status.
The Global Nutrition Report hopes to contribute to country-led efforts to strengthen accountability, share learning about what is working, and highlight bottlenecks to progress and how they may be overcome.
The 2025 World Health Assembly targets for nutrition should be regarded as a floor, not a ceiling, which can be exceeded with a realistic intensification of commitment and effort. This report is a critical first step in that direction.
Leah Oatway Senior communications officer
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