Many developing countries have had success in reducing malnutrition. But malnutrition remains pervasive and, in many countries, comes at a very high cost. Each year, millions of children die from malnutrition; millions more suffer ill health and face long-term physical and cognitive impairment, leading to lost productivity. The period between conception and the first two years in a child’s life are critical.
The Obama administration’s initiative to fight hunger offers an opportunity to improve nutrition of mothers and children around the world. In addition to the focus on increasing agricultural productivity and raising rural incomes, the administration should scale up nutrition interventions and integrate nutrition into its development programming. It should use improvements in maternal and child nutrition as a key indicator of success. It should support country-led strategies, coordinate with other donors and ensure that U.S. actions and policies do not undermine nutrition objectives.