On 10/Sep/2019 / In Medical News
The World Health Organisation has said quality investment in nutrition can save 3.7 million lives by 2025. It also noted that health services must integrate a stronger focus on ensuring optimum nutrition at each stage of a person’s life.
According to a new report titled, Essential Nutrition Actions: Mainstreaming Nutrition Through the Life Course, WHO estimated that the right investment in nutrition could save millions of lives annually. WHO Assistant Director-General, Dr Naoko Yamamoto, said nutrition should be positioned as one of the cornerstones of essential health packages to provide quality health care services and achieve Universal Health Coverage.
She said, “We also need better food environments which allow all people to consume healthy diets. Investment in nutrition actions will help countries get closer to their goal of achieving Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.
“It can also help the economy, with every one dollar spent by donors on basic nutrition programmes returning 16 dollars to the local economy.’’ Yamamoto added that essential health packages in all settings need to contain robust nutrition components, saying countries should decide suitable interventions to support their national health policies, strategies, and plans.
He listed key interventions to include providing iron and folic acid supplements as part of antenatal care; delaying umbilical cord clamping to ensure babies receive important nutrients they need after birth. Others are, promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding; providing advice on a diet such as limiting the intake of free sugars in adults and children, as well as limiting salt intake to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
“In spite of the progress made globally in nutrition, major challenges still exist. There has been a global decline in stunting (low height-for-age ratio) between 1990 and 2018. The prevalence of stunting in children aged under five years declined from 39.2 per cent to 21.9 per cent or from 252.5 million to 149.0 million children. Although, progress has been much slower in Africa and South-East Asia,’’ she said.
Yamamoto, however, said obesity was increasing, pointing out that the prevalence of children considered overweight rose from 4.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent between 1990 and 2018.
The WHO assistant director-general also said adult overweight and obesity were also rising in nearly every region and country, with 1.3 billion people overweight in 2016, of which 650 million signified that 13 per cent of the world’s population was obese.
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