LONDON/NEW YORK, 16 November 2023 - "Today, rising global hunger and malnutrition pose one of the greatest threats to children’s futures. The youngest, poorest and most marginalised children are victims of a perfect storm of increasing conflict, poverty and climate shocks, which risks reversing the remarkable progress made on child survival and nutrition.
"Child wasting, when a child’s weight becomes too low for its height, is a condition that critically threatens a child’s ability to survive and thrive. Globally, more than 45 million (~7 per cent) children under five suffer from wasting, with over 13 million severely wasted. Even when a child survives, wasting can impact their long-term growth and development.
"Last year, a historic increase in global funding facilitated a scale up in treatment for child wasting to meet unprecedented need: 7.3 million children with severe wasting were reached with life-saving support, a 35 per cent increase from 2021 and the highest annual number reached on record. Dietary supplementation for children with moderate wasting also increased by 11 per cent, reaching 9.1 million children.
"Despite this progress, many severely malnourished children still do not have access to treatment. Sustained action is needed to maintain progress and reach even more children with life-saving care. But no child should become malnourished. Much more must be done to prevent children from wasting in the first place and protect them from the life-long individual and social impacts of malnutrition.
"Evidence based actions must be scaled up for the most vulnerable populations, to ensure the youngest children access nutritious diets, essential nutrition services and positive nutrition and care practices to prevent malnutrition. This includes investment in women’s health and nutrition, especially during pregnancy, alongside improvements in newborn feeding and care.
"Progress is possible with concerted action.
"23 countries have now completed country roadmaps under the Global Action Plan on Child Wasting and at the 2021 Tokyo Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit, 36 country commitments were made for tackling child wasting.
"In 2023, new WHO guidelines on the prevention and management of wasting and nutritional oedema (acute malnutrition) outline the way forward to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery through a multisector, child health approach. Innovative funding modalities such as the Child Nutrition Fund also offer governments and donors new ways to support the rapid scale-up of essential actions for the early prevention, detection and treatment of child wasting.
"The time for action is now. Governments, donors, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society organisations must seize these opportunities and prioritise child nutrition in order to meet the global target to reduce wasting in under-fives to less than 3 per cent of children by 2030.
"The Global Food Security Summit in the UK is an important moment for stakeholders to come together and commit to take the necessary actions required to protect the lives and futures of the world’s most vulnerable children."
The statement is issued by ARP Co-chairs: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and UNICEF, as well as members: Action Against Hunger, Concern Worldwide, the Eleanor Crook Foundation, the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children, WFP, and World Vision.
Notes to editors
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