The critical role of nutrition in the global battle against COVID-19

mother and baby in Tanzania

By His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania and Nutrition International Board Member

Why I joined the Board of Nutrition International

I am proud to announce that I have joined the Board of Directors of Nutrition International, a global nutrition organization headquartered in Canada, that works in partnership with governments around the world to eliminate malnutrition, unlock human potential and build a more resilient, equal world.

Over the last two decades, I have spoken at length about the critical importance of nutrition. Dealing with malnutrition, and its consequences, is a cardinal imperative as it has a direct bearing on the economic growth and development of nations. I have joined Nutrition International because malnutrition is an urgent issue, it is a social justice issue, it is a gender issue – and the damage it causes has not yet been matched by the political or financial commitment required to end it.

Malnutrition is holding back generations, preventing their brains and bodies from developing fully, limiting their ability to learn and succeed, and preventing their immune systems from functioning properly, increasing their risk of contracting and becoming critically ill with infectious diseases. This could not be more important as we find ourselves in the midst of a global health crisis.

We live in a borderless world where global health has become a local issue. The spread of COVID-19 has shown that the world’s battle line against pandemics is only as strong as its weakest section. That is why this health emergency cannot be overcome by conquering the disease in one country alone, we must ensure recovery in all countries.

To do so, we must embed nutrition directly into our immediate response to COVID-19. We must protect the most vulnerable, building on existing systems like social safety nets where they exist. We need to focus on women, adolescent girls and children, who are at the same time the biggest target of malnutrition and the key to freeing ourselves from it. We must act fast, we must save lives, and then we must build back better. We can use this time of disruption and hardship to build a more resilient world, one that is better able to withstand future shocks – be they health, environmental or economic.

I believe that investments in nutrition have the power to change our world, unlock human capital and break the cycle of poverty and inequality. I believe in the power of Nutrition International’s approach, working as an expert ally to help government’s deliver impact at scale. I look forward to joining this esteemed Board of Directors and working with Nutrition International to create a world where everyone, everywhere is free from malnutrition and able to reach their full potential.

His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete

Former President of Tanzania and Nutrition International Board Member

As the Former President of Tanzania, His Excellency Dr. Jakaya Kikwete is using his wealth of knowledge and expertise to improve the lives of people in Africa and around the world. In 2017, Dr. Kikwete started his own foundation, the Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Foundation, where he now serves as Chairman. His Excellency also serves as a Co-Chair on the World Refugee Council and as Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam. He joined Nutrition International's Board of Directors in April 2020.