Child malnutrition and food security
Good nutrition is the bedrock of child survival and child development. Well-nourished children are better able to grow and learn, to participate in their communities and to be resilient in the face of disease or disaster.
Efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 have unfortunately seriously compromised that resilience and heightened the existing global nutrition crisis. Containment measures have disrupted food systems, upended nutrition services and threatened food security for vulnerable children and their families. The closure of schools around the world has resulted in 39 billion meals missed.
These multiple shocks are especially dangerous for children. Undernutrition is linked to nearly half of all deaths of children under age 5. And for millions of children, chronic malnutrition will result in stunting – a largely irreversible condition that stunts their physical and mental growth. It's expected that an additional 6.7 million children will likely suffer from wasting this year due to COVID-19.
UNICEF works to give kids a healthy start
Prevention of malnutrition among children is crucial. UNICEF has time-tested methods for helping mothers give their children nourishing food. The first 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy to a child’s second birthday offer a window of opportunity for preventing undernutrition and its consequences. UNICEF targets this period with support for breastfeeding, nutrition-rich foods for infants and micronutrient supplements.
By focusing on these first 1,000 days, UNICEF has helped cut the number of children under 5 who are stunted by 55 million since 2000.
UNICEF purchases 80 percent of the world's supply of Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Food, a "miracle" treatment formulated to bring children who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition back from the brink. UNICEF works with manufacturers to increase supplies of the product and keep prices down. And thanks to the UNICEF Kid Power movement, UNICEF is reaching even more kids in need.