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Mother and newborn in India

Nutrition International, as part of the International Coalition for Advocacy on Nutrition (ICAN), submitted the following statement to the Multi-Stakeholder Hearing for the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) held April 29, 2019. The statement emphasizes the critical importance of nutrition as part of the essential package of services delivered as part of UHC, as nutrition is a cost-effective and high-impact investment which alleviates stress on the health system. The statement was delivered by WaterAid on behalf of the coalition.

Honourable delegates, this statement is delivered by WaterAid, on behalf of the International Coalition for Advocacy on Nutrition.

Preventing and treating malnutrition, especially during the first 1000 days, is a critical pathway to realising UHC. Affecting every third person, malnutrition and related NCDs underlie almost half of all child deaths, and 71% of global deaths.

Malnutrition disproportionately affects the poorest and most vulnerable, aggravating the intergenerational cycle of ill-health and poverty. Essential nutrition services like breastfeeding and dietary counselling, hygiene promotion, wasting treatment, and, vitamin and micronutrient supplementation promote development, reduce NCDs, and increase immunity and resiliency to infection. Investing in these high-impact, low-cost interventions will support the achievement of UHC.

We urge Member States to prioritise nutrition in the HLM outcome document as a determinant of UHC and commit to:

  • Integrate nutrition interventions and health promotion in PHC, focusing on the poorest and most marginalised, especially women and girls;
  • Train and support community health workers to deliver key nutrition services;
  • Ensure essential medicines include health products to prevent and treat malnutrition;
  • Allocate greater financing for and ownership of nutrition by health decision makers, in collaboration with other stakeholders including WASH, education, agriculture and social protection.