With support from the Eleanor Crook Foundation, Hope Through Healing Hands has launched a new campaign, the 1000 Days Initiative, to respond to the nutritional needs of mothers and babies around the world. Because I want our family to develop a broad and compassionate worldview, I am sharing this need with my children so we can lend our voice (and our prayers) to this effort. Will you join me to strengthen families all over the world?
Nutrition is one of the most overlooked areas in global health and development today. Though the U.S. has been a historic leader with the advent of PEPFAR and other initiatives for infectious disease, family planning, clean water, and maternal health and child survival, nutrition remains a fraction of the budget for foreign assistance. There is a deep need for awareness and advocacy to uplift this issue and address the critical needs of hunger and malnutrition, particularly for women and children in the first 1000 days of life.
The 1000 days of life that occur through pregnancy until a child’s second birthday is the most critical time period for life-changing impact on a child’s future. Good nutrition and supplements can save the life of the mother, the child, and enhance cognitive and physical capacity for a lifetime. One-third of people in the world suffer from malnutrition. Because mothers in developing nations are not getting the proper prenatal nutrients in their diet their children are not developing properly, both mentally and physically. This is called stunting. One-quarter of all children in the world under 5 years of age is stunted.
The Statistics: Addressing the Nutritional Needs of Mothers and Babies Around the World
- One in three people around the world are affected by malnutrition –through stunting, wasting, and obesity (2016 Global Nutrition Report – From Promise to Impact: Ending Malnutrition by 2030).
- More than 795 million people around the world suffer from hunger. (UN WFP)
- Anemia from iron deficiency affects over half a billion women worldwide, which can lead to maternal death and stillbirths, prematurity, and low birth weight.
- 5.9 million children die every year from preventable, treatable causes, and nearly half of those children die from undernutrition. (WHO, UNICEF)
- Nearly 1 in 4 children worldwide live with stunting, an irreversible outcome of chronic undernutrition that impacts cognition, and weakens immune systems which makes individuals more susceptible to disease and death. (UNICEF)
- Two million children die from wasting every year. Severely wasted children are 11 times more likely to die than their healthy counterparts. (GlobalFinancingFacility.org)
4 Solutions to Help Meet the Nutritional Needs of Mothers and Babies Around the World
Economic: For every $1 invested in nutrition and food security, there is a return of $16 on economic benefits. (2016 Global Nutrition Report – From Promise to Impact: Ending Malnutrition by 2030.)
Breastfeeding: Scaling up breastfeeding could save the lives of an estimated 832,000 children per year. Breastfeeding boosts immunity, protects from diseases, increases intelligence, and is essential for healthy growth. (Victoria, C et al. (2016) Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. The Lancet 387:475-490.)
Interventions: Vitamin A, promotion of good infant and child nutrition, clean hygiene practices, antenatal micronutrient supplementations, iron and folic acid supplements for girls, staple food fortification, and treatment of severe acute malnutrition. (Nutrition: Saving Lives, Unlocking Potential, 2016).
Advocacy: To protect or increase funding for nutrition in the U.S foreign assistance for 1 – bilateral funding for nutrition, 2 – Feed the Future program funding, 3 – Food Aid, 4 – Emergency response programs to address food insecurity in conflict areas and humanitarian crises, and 5 – Multilateral programs such as the UN agriculture and nutrition.
What Your Family Can Do To Help
1. Visit Hope Through Healing Hands to learn more about the facts of maternal and child nutrition in developing regions. Help your family become familiar with this global problem even if you don’t feel you can’t do anything about it. Awareness is the first step toward action.
2. Get involved as an advocate for increased funding in global nutrition, agriculture, and emergency response programs. You can do this by simply reaching out to your state Senator or Representative and ask for them to support a fully funded International Affairs account. There are changes being considered right now to cut the account by almost 30%. This would be devastating to the lives of millions around the world. HTHH has a goal to at least raise the level of funding to where it was during previous administrations, if not more, to continue the historic progress that has been made over the last 25 years to fight disease and poverty around the world. You can find and contact your Senator or State Representative, reach out to him/her and share your passion for the 1000 Days Initiative and what it can mean for mothers and babies in developing countries.
3. Talk and pray about this global need as a family. Our children need to know and understand (at a level appropriate to their age) that there are families all over our great, big world that do not have their very basic needs met on a daily basis. Talking about these needs and praying for our leaders to have the wisdom and courage to help meet them will develop compassion and a healthy worldview in the hearts of our children.
We often feel too busy and helpless, as parents, to make an impact on the world around us. But we can easily raise our voice and our prayers for efforts like this one. We can open the eyes of our kids to see and understand the vast needs of other children. Building awareness in our kids and allowing their hearts to connect to the world is our first step to raising a generation of children who lead with LOVE.
Does your heart resonate with this effort to help mothers and babies worldwide get the nutrition they need to thrive? Will you join us in spreading the word through your sphere?