Child deaths from acute malnutrition could be ended in a generation, according to a new global campaign launched on the 24 April by a coalition of leading international development organisations.
The campaign called ‘Generation Nutrition’ shines a spotlight on the plight of 52 million children in the world suffering from acute malnutrition - 1 in 12 children globally. In a report published last week, it revealed that one million children die every year as a result of inadequate nutrition and that millions more have their prospects irreversibly damaged by the devastating effects of malnutrition.
The organisations launching the Generation Nutrition campaign are calling for world leaders to agree a new global target to reduce the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition by millions every year until 2030 and take immediate action to achieve this reduction, supporting all efforts to end child deaths from the condition.
In particular, they should:
1. Give every malnourished child access to the treatment they need to recover.
2. Prevent acute malnutrition from occurring in the first place.
3. Make ambitious global and national commitments to end child deaths from acute malnutrition.
Malaria Consortium is one of the organisations supporting the Generation Nutrition campaign and can offer a unique perspective on the impact that malnutrition can have on children under five through our expertise in malaria and other infectious diseases.
“Children who are malnourished are at greater risk of illness because their immunity is lowered,” said Malaria Consortium Chief Executive, Charles Nelson. “At the same time children with an infectious disease are often more at risk of becoming malnourished. This vicious circle means that it makes sense to adopt an integrated approach to prevention and treatment and we are delighted to offer our support to this campaign.”
In South Sudan, Malaria Consortium, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and UNICEF, has integrated the treatment of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and the most common childhood diseases - malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Community drug distributors have been recruited to work in their own community to assess cases of malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea in infants and children under five years of age and prescribe the necessary drugs for treatment. The distributors are also responsible for detecting cases of severe acute malnutrition in the households. Children found to have SAM are referred to a nearby outpatient therapeutic programme for treatment by community nutrition workers, or to a stabilisation centre, if the case involves medical complications. They are treated using the therapeutic feeding method, but also receive the appropriate treatment for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea.
This approach offers a more cost-effective way of diagnosing and treating different diseases and conditions than handling them separately. Crucially, it also means that more cases get detected and therefore more lives are saved. By bringing treatment to the community, more people have access to health care, while the stress on the already overburdened health system is reduced.
Sign the Generation Nutrition petition to your government and add your voice.