WASHINGTON, D.C. — USAID recently announced their new Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy on May 22 to reduce the amount of individuals in extreme poverty who experience the effects of chronic malnourishment. This new USAID nutrition strategy will address both direct and indirect causes of malnutrition, along with working with the most malnourished communities that may have some difficulty becoming healthy again after living without proper nutrients for so long.
Using the nutrition targets organized by the World Health Organization as a basis, USAID created this strategy to fight chronic malnutrition. These nutrition targets were created to not only improve but also maintain a healthy level of nutrition in entire communities, especially among pregnant women, infants and young children. By working with government initiatives, development programs and other nutrition investments, USAID will work to decrease global chronic malnutrition by 20 percent by the year 2025.
Chronic malnutrition has become a serious issue in developing countries. According to UNICEF, chronic malnutrition, also called stunting, refers to an individual who is unnaturally shorter than the normal height suggested for his/her age. Stunting is a result of several factors, such as poor maternal nutrition and poor food quality, that affect the child’s growth before and after birth. According to the World Health Organization, stunting affects approximately 162 million children globally, which is why this organization focuses on giving the proper necessary nutrients to pregnant women.
Although malnutrition is clearly an important issue that needs to be addressed, this severe health condition is difficult to resolve because there are a variety of factors contributing to malnutrition. According to USAID, malnutrition can be caused by insufficient availability of nutritious foods, water and sanitation, along with other societal issues such as gender inequality. If individuals, especially young children, are not getting the necessary nutrients, then they are more susceptible to diseases, which is why malnutrition causes high levels of maternal and child mortality.
Even though USAID has worked to improve foreign countries’ ability to develop economically since 1961, the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy is a completely new idea to this organization. To determine whether or not the Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy will be successful, USAID will use the following criteria:
- Were nutrition services provided equally and were they utilized?
- Are countries now showing a dedication to nutrition?
- Was there an overall increase in multi-sectoral nutrition programming and coordination?
- Was leadership in global nutrition increased?
Leaders from this organization hope that a focus on nutrition levels in impoverished countries will be a central focus in the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, which outline a list of goals the U.N. wishes to achieve by 2030. Not only is addressing the issue of malnutrition important to decrease the high levels of maternal and child mortality rates in developing countries, but it will also break the cycle of poverty within those countries.