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Investing in Nutrition: the Foundation For Development

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Every year, malnutrition claims the lives of 3 million children under age five and costs the global economy billions of dollars in lost productivity and health care costs. Yet those losses are almost entirely preventable. A large body of scientific evidence shows that improving nutrition during the critical 1,000 day window from a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday has the potential to save lives, help millions of children develop fully and thrive, and deliver greater economic prosperity.

There is an urgent need for global action on nutrition.

This paper lays out an investment framework to reach the global nutrition targets:

  1. Global action is urgently needed to tackle the pervasive problem of malnutrition.
  2. Reaching the targets to reduce stunting among children and anemia in women, increase exclusive breastfeeding rates, and mitigate the impact of wasting will require an average annual investment of $7 billion over the next 10 years. This is in addition to the $3.9 billion the world currently spends on nutrition annually.
  3. To catalyze progress toward the global nutrition targets, priority should be given to a set of the most cost-effective actions which can be scaled up immediately. Financing this more limited set of actions will require an additional annual investment of just over $2 billion for the next 10 years. The majority of this annual investment would come from country governments and donors, $1.4 billion and $650 million, respectively, while innovative financing mechanisms and households fund the remaining gap.
  4. When combined with other health and poverty reduction efforts, this priority investment can yield significant returns: an estimated 2.2 million lives can be saved and there will be 50 million fewer cases of stunting in 2025 compared to in 2015. 
  5. Achieving the targets is within reach if all partners work together to immediately step up in investments in nutrition.




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