At a time when so many areas require more resources to meet SDG targets, the Global Nutrition Summit held in Milan last week sheds a light on what’s needed to accelerate the global response to malnutrition. A total of US$640 million in new funding was announced at the Summit. The Governments of Cote d’Ivoire, El Salvador and Madagascar, as well as philanthropies from India, Switzerland, Nigeria, United States and Nepal made pledges to reduce malnutrition for all, especially children and mothers.
SDG 2.2 aims to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030, but current hunger statistics show a desperate need for more resources. Though malnutrition rates for children under five may have fallen in some countries, the number of people who go to bed hungry has increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2017. The number of anemic women has also increased since 2012.
Since the Summit, the United Nations (UN) has released reports on two nutrition crises in Bangladesh and South Sudan. Both are countries with an abundance of victims of conflict and displacement and suffer alarming malnutrition rates.
South Sudan is currently in harvest season. Yet, according to a recent report released by the Government of South Sudan, the number of people experiencing severe food insecurity is likely to increase by 1.4 million since December of last year. Malnutrition rates have also worsened with most communities well above the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold. Additionally, the deteriorating economy has disrupted food production and markets leading to a surge in food prices, especially staple foods which are up by 281% from last year.
Across the Arabian Sea in Bangladesh, Rohingya refugees are also facing severe acute malnutrition. An assessment from Kutupalong Refugee Camp shows a 7.5% prevalence of life-threatening acute malnutrition, a rate that has doubled since May. Because children in the camp have already endured journeys by foot for up to ten days, often with little food and water, and have been exposed to numerous health risks, those experiencing malnutrition are at risk of dying from an entirely preventable disease.
Photo credit: WHO