New data and evidence show that the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to widespread increases in malnutrition due to disruptions in food, health and social protection systems. Lockdown measures are disrupting the production, transportation, and sale of nutritious, fresh and affordable foods, forcing millions of families to rely on nutrient-poor alternatives. Early reports suggest substantial drops in the coverage of preventive health services, including vaccination and antenatal care programs, as well as declines in optimal breastfeeding practices for fear of virus transmission.
While policymakers and public health leaders manage a range of urgent priorities, delivering good nutrition must be a foundational component of an effective pandemic response strategy. Good nutrition helps lessen the effects and risks of COVID-19, and is a prerequisite for the physical, immunological, and cognitive development of children and the health and productivity of adults. In short, no individual, community, or nation can thrive without good nutrition.
To address these challenges, Standing Together for Nutrition (STfN) formed as a multidisciplinary consortium of nutrition, economics, food
and health system experts working to address the scale and reach of COVID-related nutrition challenges. In addition to assessing the impact of COVID-19
on nutritional status, STfN will model projected impacts during the short- and long-term recovery phases of the pandemic and identify recommendations to
mitigate damage – drawing from agenda-setting data and evidence-based policy materials, including the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI2020), and the recent United Nation (UN) policy brief, The impact of COVID-19 on food security and nutrition.
One Virus, Many Consequences: A Call to Action to Stand Together and Build on Evidence to Inform Nutrition Responses
STfN’s open Call to Action, “One virus, many consequences: A call to action to stand together and build on evidence to inform nutrition responses” – signed by over
500 signatories from research, academia, development, and civil society
institutions from every region – urges global nutrition, health, and food systems
communities to work together more effectively than ever before, to assess the
scale and reach of the nutritional challenges and to articulate effective responses.
New Commentaries Published in The Lancet
To help inform and guide prioritization ahead of the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit and Food Systems Summit in 2021, the STfN consortium authored a commentary in the The Lancet published Monday, July 27, 2020.
The Lancet commentary, Impacts of COVID-19 on childhood malnutrition and nutrition-related mortality, presents early estimates from experts on the combined economic and health systems crisis on child wasting and related mortality in the context of the pandemic.
It is a companion piece to Child malnutrition and COVID-19: the time to act is now, also published in The Lancet from the directors-general of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNICEF, World Food Programme (WFP), and World Health Organization (WHO), which issued a call to action to protect children’s right to adequate nutrition in the face of COVID-19. Read the UNICEF News Release.
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Pandemic to bring surge in child wasting cases: UN (AFP)