The number of the world’s children who are stunted due to poor nutrition has dropped from more than 253 million in 1990, to 167 million in 2010. Yet undernutrition is still responsible for 35 percent of all deaths in children under the age of five and it more than doubles a child’s likelihood of dying (The Lancet, June 2013). Five years after the international community identified the 1,000 days between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday as critical to that child’s future growth, International Medical Corps and partners are working hard to build on the progress made in childhood nutrition worldwide.
A summit in London on June 8, 2013 brought together world leaders to commit $4.5 billion between now and 2020 to prevent at least 20 million children from being stunted and to save at least 1.7 million lives. Events in Washington, D.C. this week, marking the Sustaining Political Commitments to Scaling Up Nutrition initiative, will seek to highlight the growing political momentum behind global nutrition during the critical 1,000-day window. These civil society events will celebrate the achievements over the past 1,000 days—since the last international call to action on early childhood malnutrition was made in September 2010—and prepare for the next 1,000-day period, which will coincide with the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.
International Medical Corps co-organized a fully-packed event to discuss the “Power of 1,000 Days” and the critical role that nutrition plays in the future of a child and a country. Four senators co-hosted the event: Senator John Boozman, Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Speakers discussed the global commitments made on June 8 and 10 to address malnutrition and prevent its devastating consequences, and received a preview of the 2013 The Lancet series on maternal and child nutrition from its lead author. Finally, the event provided a forum to engage developing country government and civil society representatives, as well as donor country and philanthropic foundation representatives, and U.S.-based nutrition stakeholders.
International Medical Corps is committed to alleviating the suffering caused by malnutrition through quality nutrition programs in food-insecure countries and in emergency contexts globally. Last year, we treated almost 200,000 people for malnutrition through our Nutrition and Food Security programs. In Afghanistan, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen, International Medical Corps addresses the emergency nutrition needs of conflict-affected individuals, including refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities. We are responding to the needs of populations affected by drought and chronic poverty in Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Kenya, Haiti and Sierra Leone. And in the Middle East, International Medical Corps is addressing the nutritional needs of IDPs and refugees by integrating infant and young child feeding programs into mental health and primary health care interventions, and by training health care providers in emergency nutrition.