WaterAid statement at World Health Assembly: Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition

WaterAid, supported by the International Coalition for Advocacy on Nutrition, would like to commend World Health Organisation (WHO) and Member States on progress made on the 'Comprehensive Plan for Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition'.

We are encouraged by the 182 members states that have drafted national policies that contain explicit goals and strategies to improve nutrition, and by global reductions in stunting, wasting, and low birth weight rates.

Whilst we are right to celebrate progress, this progress is still too slow to achieve the World Health Assembly (WHA) targets by 2025. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) will never be fully achieved whilst malnutrition continues to burden populations. Yet, 2 billion people are affected with malnutrition and 88% of countries face serious burdens of either two or three forms of malnutrition. A WHO-UNICEF assessment found that NO country is currently on track to meet the WHA 2025 anaemia target of 50% reduction.

It is women and girls who are disproportionately affected by malnutrition, impacting their lives as individuals, and the lives of the next generation should they also be mothers. Increased analysis on equity and gender within the plan would help to illuminate gaps and opportunities to better streamline the linkage of gender equality as a maker and marker of improved nutrition and health and non-health outcomes, and would also provide a useful intersectoral lens to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Further, we encourage WHO to better highlight nutrition sensitive interventions as key to fostering enabling environments, ensuring full and sustainable realization of the WHA targets.

Lastly, we wish to strongly reinforce the importance of Member States’ awareness of new guidance documents and tools produced by WHO to address the vast number of infants and young children inappropriately fed - and mothers misinformed - resulting in compromised nutrition, growth, development, health and survival, for all.