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100M

Children missed their first dose of vitamin A in 2020

1.5B

Can’t afford a diet that meets their nutritional needs

40%

Potential increase in maternal mortality due to COVID-19 disruptions

The Need

COVID-19 has revealed the disconnection between the world we expound, and the world we are prepared to tolerate.

The spread of COVID-19, an unprecedented health emergency, has triggered an economic crisis touching nearly every corner of the world. The severity of the coronavirus, strain on health services, devastation of international trade and implications of social distancing measures are causing ripple effects across economies, and introducing new threats to health and wellbeing, particularly for the world’s most vulnerable.

Millions of people living in poverty – particularly in Africa and Asia – will be heavily impacted by the pandemic and its aftershocks. Not only because of crowded conditions where handwashing and social distancing are a challenge, but because so many are immunocompromised or carry underlying conditions, often caused by malnutrition.

As countries divert limited resources to treating immediate medical needs, economic shutdowns disrupt supply chains and the contraction of the informal economy devastates purchasing power, nutritious food and basic health services are becoming more difficult to access. Meanwhile, overwhelmed health systems are struggling to provide routine services, and fear is keeping people from seeking the care they need.

Combined, these factors have put the world on the brink of a malnutrition crisis, which has the potential to be even more devastating than COVID-19 itself.

How we help

Nutrition can save lives today and help build a stronger, more resilient tomorrow.

Past crises have taught us, in some cases at great cost, that nutrition cannot wait. In response, Nutrition International is working alongside governments, partners and donors to save lives today with emergency nutrition interventions. Focusing on the most vulnerable people – pregnant and lactating women, and children under five in particular – to deliver the right nutrition at the right time, which simply cannot be provided through diet alone.

We are also working to build a build a stronger, more resilient tomorrow by helping people, communities, and countries adapt and improve decision-making and programming. This means provide tailored training to improve the capacity of frontline community health workers, most of whom are volunteers and nearly 70 percent of which are women.

It also means supporting countries to build towards more modern, equitable health systems and improve decision-making and evidence-based planning to reduce the impact of this crisis and better prepare countries for future shocks – be they economic, health or environmental.

Global Crisis

We live in a borderless world where global health is a local issue and the battle line against pandemics is only as strong as its weakest section.

Before COVID-19, more than two billion people – one out of every three people on the planet – suffered from some form of malnutrition which prevents their brains from developing fully, their bodies from growing properly, and their immune systems from working effectively, putting them at lifelong risk of disease and disability.

When the frontline of any health system is people’s immune system, malnutrition handicaps entire countries from the start. A strong immune system lowers the risk of contracting and becoming critically ill with infectious diseases and supports faster recovery. This in turn lowers the overall burden on the healthcare system, allowing those who need the system most to have the best access to quality care.

Past crises have taught us, in some cases at great cost, that nutrition cannot wait. Nutrition International is working with countries, partners and donors to ensure nutrition and health services are integrated into every phase of the pandemic response, that governments have the data they need to make the right choices and that people are able to safely access the care they need.