No Wasted Lives | Action Against Hunger

No Wasted Lives

Despite good progress, the fight to end child malnutrition has stagnated in the past year. In a bid to speed things up, we've joined forces with the world’s leading aid organisations

By Jean-Michel Grand

Sep 20 2016

We have a shared vision – to save millions of lives and build a brighter future for some of the most vulnerable children in the world.

That is why we are proud to be part of No Wasted Lives – a coalition of aid organisations including Action Against Hunger, Children’s Investment Fund Foundations, UNICEF, the UK and US governments and the EU – that aims to tackle one of the leading child killers in the world: severe malnutrition.

It is one of the greatest challenges to child survival in the world today. Affecting 16 million children worldwide and responsible for up to two million child deaths each year, it is the most lethal form of malnutrition.  Not only does it cause rapid and severe weight loss – leaving children physically wasted – it seriously and significantly compromises their immune system making it almost impossible to resist disease. So much so that children with severe malnutrition are nine times more likely to die from common infections like diarrhoea.

It can be a devastating disease, but the good news is that solutions exist that in the last year alone have cured more than three million children. Simple and effective products, like therapeutic foods, and community based mechanisms to reach the most marginalised children have enabled us to save the lives of more children than ever before. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but we know there is still a long way to go because for more than 80 percent of children who cannot access treatment it is a death sentence.

The world will not meet the Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating preventable child deaths by 2030 without a renewed and coordinated effort to protect children from severe malnutrition. That is why we, as part of No Wasted Lives, are committed to doubling the number of children receiving life-saving treatment for severe malnutrition to 6 million a year by 2020.

 It’s an ambitious feat to achieve in just five years but entirely possible when you start to think about how far we have come:

  • The model for treating children with severe malnutrition started as a small-pilot project, now – a decade later – it’s a national approach in more than 70 countries. 
  • In just five years the number of severely malnourished children being treated triple from just over 1 million in 2009 to more than three million in 2014.

But it’s an uphill battle to not lose the momentum and gains of the last few years.  In the last year global to scale up access to this life-saving treatment has stagnated. Now is not the times to be taking our foot off the accelerator, especially since the current rate of reduction means it could take a 150 years for this child killer to be eliminated.

While we all come from different perspectives we all agree on one thing: the answers to scaling up treatment and saving lives means overcoming programmatic bottlenecks, political challenges and financing constraints.

To enable six million children to access life-saving treatment each year by 2020 we will work to:

  • Reduce the cost of curing severely malnourished children to less than $100
  • Halve the cost of therapeutic foods required to cure a child from severe malnutrition
  • Invest and identify treatment approaches capable of reaching 70% of all severe malnutrition cases in their catchment areas
  • Make severe malnutrition a political priority by supporting countries with the highest burdens to adopt scale up targets

We’re ultimately doing this together because while we know we can make reasonable contributions to fighting this disease individually, to really lead the charge to end the deadliest form of hunger we need a collective approach. We all bring something different to the table. When all is said and done we know that to unlock the global and national challenges we will need different skills to solve different problems.


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