08222017Headline:

Family Health Check Up: Nutrition for a Healthy Start to Life

This is the third post in the six-part Family Health “Check Up” 2103 series which provides a window into the ways in which we think about our Family Health strategy, at the foundation. Follow @gatesfoundation and @gdarmsta on Twitter to join the conversation.Here at the Gates Foundation, as the nutrition team reflects back over 2012 for our strategy review, a couple of notable experiences stand out for us as evidence of progress. In partnership with organizations which work to improve nutrition for children in the poorest countries, we have seen some exciting achievements. Though many challenges remain, these events (and many others over the course of the year) reaffirm our strategic direction to focus our investments on healthy growth, breastfeeding and complementary feeding, and control of selected micronutrient deficiencies.

The first evidence of progress is the increased attention that nutrition is receiving on the global health and development agenda. Governments and donors alike are beginning to recognize that investing in nutrition makes health as well as economic sense, and many in Asia and Africa are committing to the Scaling up Nutrition movement (SUN) to improve nutrition outcomes.

In partnership with organizations which work to improve nutrition for children in the poorest countries, we have seen some exciting achievements.

A second notable moment, and further evidence that we’re headed in the right direction, was the release of the Copenhagen Consensus 2012, which ranked investing in a bundled package of nutrition interventions as the number one priority to advance global health and well-being. These interventions include breastfeeding and complementary feeding promotion, provision of micronutrients, food fortification, treatment of severe acute wasting, provision of food supplements in food insecure areas, and treatment of worms and diarrhea.

In an effort to further share the work we’re focused on here at the foundation, below are some of the highlights from 2012:

To stay true to our vision that all children have the nutrition they need for a healthy start to life, we have made a couple of adjustments to our strategy as new evidence advances our own understanding of how to achieve the greatest impact.

We recognize that addressing maternal and child malnutrition will take the concerted effort of many sectors—including health, water/sanitation, agriculture, education, and social protection. We work closely with many partners in these various sectors to improve the nutritional impact of their efforts.

We recognize that addressing maternal and child malnutrition will take the concerted effort of many sectors.

Last summer, for example, together with our agriculture team we published a position paper on how to optimize the nutritional impact of our agricultural investments, and there is an unprecedented degree of alignment between the two teams to work together to take forward this agenda. We have also developed a conceptual framework to guide our work in optimizing the pathway from increased agricultural productivity and income generation to improved nutritional status for women and children. Through research trials in several countries we are also exploring the synergistic impact of improving water and sanitation while simultaneously enhancing a child’s nutrient intake.

Globally, we have made significant progress in 2012 when it comes to understanding more about how to address the nutritional needs of children, and along with our partners we are excited about the prospects for 2013. We continue to learn, adjust, and grapple with a number of challenges to achieving impact at scale. A major question on our mind is: how do we measure our impact and sustain this momentum into 2015 and beyond? We will continue to ask the hard questions and explore ways to create catalytic change when it comes to improving children’s nutritional status in the poorest countries in the world.

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