WASHINGTON, D.C. — While maternal and child malnutrition remains a significant problem around the world, the U.S. has made progress in the fight against it through USAID’s Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy. As its title suggests, S.Res. 260 is “a resolution recognizing the importance of sustained United States leadership to accelerating global progress against maternal and child malnutrition.” it supports the “commitment of the United States Agency for International Development to reducing global malnutrition through the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy.” This resolution highlights the important work USAID has done to reduce maternal and child malnutrition.
Senate Resolution 260
Fighting malnutrition is both an economic and global health issue. It is central to poverty reduction and international development. Furthermore, reducing malnutrition promotes self-reliance. According to S.Res. 260, while there has been substantial progress on fighting global malnutrition, that progress has been too slow. The resolution states that reducing maternal and child malnutrition globally is in the United States’ national interest. In addition, it commends the efforts of USAID and, in particular, its Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy to end global malnutrition and undernourishment.
As the resolution points out, malnutrition remains a huge problem throughout the world. It gives harrowing statistics. At least 21.9 percent of all children under five globally are “stunted or chronically undernourished.” Of these children, 7.3 percent face acute malnutrition, which can be deadly. In fact, malnutrition is responsible for 45 percent of deaths of children under 5. In countries with high rates of malnutrition, one-third of children on average are stunted. For mothers, 20 percent of maternal deaths are due to iron deficiency, which is associated with malnutrition.
USAID’s Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy
In response to the ongoing problem of global maternal and child malnutrition, USAID has adopted a Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy to combat the problem. USAID’s work is focused on 25 countries where 70 percent of maternal and child deaths occur worldwide. Investing in child and maternal nutrition is a top priority for USAID. According to a USAID report, nutrition interventions can save possibly millions of lives. Providing nutritional assistance also spurs economic growth and development. USAID’s goal by 2025 is to aid countries in having well-nourished populations.
USAID prioritizes fighting and ending child and maternal malnutrition because doing so saves and vastly improves lives. Especially in the first 1,000 days — from the start of the pregnancy until age two –, optimal maternal and child nutrition is crucial to ensure healthy mothers and children. Good nutrition early in life decreases children’s vulnerability to infectious diseases and the likelihood that they will fall into the negative cycle of under-nourishment, which leads to disease and then death. The context-specific nutrition intervention programs that USAID implements are cost-effective and have a high impact on reducing child and maternal nutrition and mortality.
The Resolution’s Status
Representative Susan Collins [R-ME] introduced S.Res. 260 in the Senate on June 24, 2019. The resolution, which was assigned to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has 41 bipartisan cosponsors (25D, 15R, 1I). The Senate agreed to the resolution on January 14, 2020. Representative Roger Marshall [R-KS-1] introduced the House version of the resolution, H.R. 189, on March 7, 2019. It was then assigned to the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Agriculture. The last action taken on H.R. 189 was on March 10, 2020, when the committees order a report by voice vote.
As the resolution notes, the United States has been a leader in the global effort to combat maternal and child malnutrition. Through its Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy, USAID has been able to effectively integrate its nutrition programs into key sectors. The passage of S.Res. 260 in the Senate by unanimous consent underscores the bipartisan support for foreign aid to reduce global malnutrition.
– Sarah Frazer