Nutrition Gives Kids a Healthy Start to Life | UNICEF USA
 

Every day, UNICEF workers brave war zones, disasters and disease to reach vulnerable children with lifesaving support. This includes improving nutrition to ensure kids grow up healthy and strong — and preventing and treating malnutrition. Every year, hundreds of millions of children under 5 receive nutrition services from UNICEF. Every year, UNICEF reaches hundreds of millions of children under 5 with services to prevent malnutrition

Kids need UNICEF now more than ever:

  • Poor-quality diets are one of the greatest obstacles to the survival, growth, development and learning of children today; stakes are highest in the first two years of life, when malnutrition can irreversibly harm a child’s rapidly growing body and brain.
  • Two-thirds of the world's young children live on a diet that does not meet minimum nutritional requirements for healthy development.
  • Rising poverty, inequality, climate change, conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated malnutrition crises worldwide.
  • Poor nutrition takes many forms: wasting, or low weight for height, carries a higher risk of death if not treated properly; stunting, or low height for age, prevents children from reaching their full potential.
  • COVID-19 rolled back years of progress on this issue as families lost jobs and income and food systems and nutrition services were disrupted; when schools closed during pandemic lockdowns, 370 million children missed out on what for many was their only nutritious meal of the day.
  • Chronic food crises in countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan have resulted in soaring rates of severe acute malnutrition among children, endangering millions of young lives.
  • The economic costs of undernutrition are significant — estimated at $3 trillion a year in lost productivity globally.

Meet Razaqah Ahmed Ahmed Haroon Haban, a UNICEF-supported community health worker in the Yemen village Wadi Habat. Many years of war have shattered the nation's health system, but Ahmed refuses to let children pay the price, going door-to-door to give those most vulnerable the lifesaving care and nutrition they so desperately need.

Meet Razaqah Ahmed Ahmed Haroon Haban, a UNICEF-supported community health worker in rural Yemen who is determined to give the most vulnerable children the lifesaving care and nutrition they so desperately need.

 

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  • UNICEF is a leader: When emergencies strike, UNICEF spearheads the work to provide nutrition to children who need it most.
  • UNICEF prevents and treats: UNICEF provides micronutrients to children who are vulnerable to malnutrition to protect them from disease and cognitive delays.
  • UNICEF tackles the root causes of the problems children face: UNICEF backs nutrition programs in over 130 countries with the support of 700 nutrition experts.
  • UNICEF encourages best practices: Exclusive breastfeeding has increased by 50 percent since the early 1980s, helping to build babies’ immunity, give them the key nutrients they need to grow and thrive and reduce their risk of obesity and diabetes later in life.
  • UNICEF is adaptable: Applying a community-based approach to malnutrition prevention, treatment and care, UNICEF has been able to increase the number of children reached with lifesaving support year over year.
  • UNICEF gets results: Every year, millions of children with severe acute malnutrition recover after receiving treatment with UNICEF's help.
  • When emergencies strike, UNICEF spearheads the work to provide nutrition to children who need it most.
  • UNICEF procures an estimated 80 percent of the world’s therapeutic food that brings malnourished kids back to good health; and every year, millions of children with severe acute malnutrition recover after receiving treatment with UNICEF's help.
  • UNICEF distributes hundreds of millions of packets of micronutrient powders annually to support children's healthy development.
  • UNICEF has helped increase exclusive breastfeeding by 50 percent, helping mothers give babies their best start in life.
 

Meet the UNICEF workers helping kids around the world

We won't stop until we bring good health to every child
We won't stop until every child has clean water
We won't stop until we help every child learn
We won't stop until we reach every child in crisis
We won't stop until we treat every malnourished child
We won't stop until we protect every child
We won't stop until every child has a voice

UNICEF: saving and changing lives

At 14 months old, Adut was suffering from severe acute malnutrition — leaving her quiet, listless and weak, and putting her life at risk. Today, Adut is a different child thanks to her parents getting her the help she needed — treatment with Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food and the care of UNICEF South Sudan’s nutrition team.

At 14 months old, Adut was suffering from severe acute malnutrition — leaving her quiet, listless and weak, and putting her life at risk. Today, Adut is a different child thanks to her parents getting her the help she needed — treatment with Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food and the care of UNICEF South Sudan’s nutrition team.