Setting high ambitions for nutrition to save lives

News and Press Release
Originally published


Scaling up nutrition : can we really move forward without national targets ?

On the occasion of the UN General Assembly and a side event on the Decade of Action for Nutrition, Generation Nutrition is launching a scorecard that looks at how well 50 high-burden countries are doing in setting national nutrition targets and reaching global ones.

Overall, it’s clear that more governments in high-burden countries must adopt SMART national nutrition targets, aligned on the WHA global targets’ timeframe of 2025, or renew their targets when they are outdated or soon-to-be.

In 2012, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted a resolution establishing six global nutrition targets. In 2016, countries reiterated their commitments at the WHA and agreed to consider setting national, context-specific targets to accelerate progress in these same areas.

This scorecard explores the level of progress made by governments in 50 high-burden countries in setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART) national nutrition targets, with a focus on stunting, wasting and breastfeeding.

Although more and more countries are adopting national nutrition targets and integrating them in their national policies, the scorecard demonstrates that much effort is still needed.

  • The analysis of 50 national policies and nutrition plans with a potential total of 150 targets (three targets – wasting, stunting and breastfeeding) for each of 50 national reveals only 78 targets.

  • On the 78 existing targets, many existing targets are out-dated. Only eight are aligned with the timeframe of the global nutrition targets (i.e. 2025). There is an urgent need to update country targets on wasting, stunting and breastfeeding, and align them with WHA/SDG targets.

Beyond this global analysis, the scorecard compares how 50 high-burden countries are doing in regard to the adoption of SMART national nutrition targets and progress towards global ones.

The ranking shows that the African countries listed are outperforming their Asian counterparts and by a considerable margin. Only 16% of the Asian countries on the scorecard demonstrate a ‘high’ or ‘medium’ level of engagement when it came to setting national nutrition targets and making progress towards the global targets. By contrast, 40% of African countries are in these top two categories.

Setting national nutrition targets is an essential step towards the reduction of malnutrition. Having national targets can help set in motion a comprehensive planning process which identifies concrete actions and facilitates a mobilization of resources, thus effectively translating commitments into results.

Targets and progress seem to go hand in hand. Generation Nutrition is calling all governments to set high ambitions for nutrition to save lives.