The Lancet Revisits Global Maternal and Childhood Malnutrition

"Nutrition is crucial to both individual and national development." -The Lancet In 2008 The Lancet published a series of papers on child and maternal undernutrition in developing countries. Five years later, the authors are reexamining the problems of undernutrition in many of the same countries as well as the growing problem of obesity, a dual burden that many low-income and middle-income countries are facing. Like the original publication, this reexamination of malnutrition is written in a series of papers, studying maternal nutrition, the impacts of nutrition-specific interventions and nutrition-sensitive interventions, and how to support nutrition programs.

As a result of the original papers in 2008, many development organizations began targeting children's nutrition efforts during the pregnancy and first 2 years of life, the critical time period where malnutrition is deemed to have the most lasting effects. The new series of papers found that funding for, engagement in, and national commitments to combat malnutrition have increased substantially but nutrition outcomes have not improved as drastically and there is still much to do.

"Undernutrition reduces a nation’s economic advancement by at least 8% because of direct productivity losses, losses via poorer cognition, and losses via reduced schooling.  We cannot afford for nothing to change."

The findings of this series show how important the Nutrition Center at the Lawra District Hospital is and will be to improving the status of childhood malnutrition in the Upper West Region. However, according to the Lancet papers, large-scale and widespread nutrition-sensitive development programs are still needed to "address key underlying determinants of nutrition—such as poverty, food insecurity, and scarcity of access to adequate care resources- and include nutrition goals and actions."

We are glad that the Nutrition Center in Lawra can be a small part of the global campaign to fight malnutrition and hope these papers inspire greater change and decreased malnutrition globally.

Find all four of the papers as well as comments here: