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Implementing 10 Nutrition-Related Interventions Could Save Nearly 1M Children Annually, Study Says

“By scaling up 10 existing interventions to reach 90 percent of people in the 34 countries with the highest malnutrition rates — primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, South and South-East Asia — 900,000 deaths of children under five could be prevented each year,” according to a study on nutrition and investment published as part of a series in The Lancet last week, SciDev.Net reports. The plan would require an annual investment of $9.6 billion, according to the study, the news service notes (Chan, 6/10). According to IRIN, the study “recommends: universal salt iodization; the promotion of early and exclusive breastfeeding; micronutrient supplementation for all pregnant women; calcium supplements for pregnant women who need them; food supplements for pregnant women who need them; vitamin A supplements for children between six months and five years old; zinc supplements for children between one and five years old; education about appropriate complementary feeding, backed by supplements where needed; proper management moderate acute malnutrition; and proper management of severe acute malnutrition.”

“The lead author of the paper on interventions, Zulfiqar Bhutta of Pakistan’s Aga Khan University said, ‘We believe that these 10 nutrition-specific interventions have the potential to save lives. The cost is affordable for a world which spends close to a hundred times more than this on conflict,'” IRIN writes (6/10). “The researchers believe that more than half of the funds could be provided by India and Indonesia, with other smaller countries making financial contributions and the remaining $3-4 billion coming from external donors,” SciDev.Net reports, noting the recent Nutrition for Growth summit “secured commitments of up to $4.15 billion to tackle malnutrition.” The news service adds, “At the launch event for the series of papers, Lawrence Haddad, a study author based at the Institute of Development Studies, United Kingdom, said: ‘Let’s not wait for political will: let’s will our politicians to act” (6/10).