“By investing in locally-designed and led nutrition programs, applying the evidence of what works, and adapting quickly, we can prevent child malnutrition, even in the time of COVID, and build a healthier world for everyone.”
USAID Administrator Samantha Power
2021 Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit
At the 2021 Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit, U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power announced on behalf of the White House that the United States intends to invest up to $11 billion over three years, subject to Congressional appropriations, to combat global malnutrition, the underlying cause of almost half of childhood deaths globally.
Ensuring the survival and wellbeing of newborns, children, and women remains an urgent global challenge that good nutrition can help solve. This investment will enable the U.S. government to equip partner countries’ governments and communities with the skills and resources for improved health, diets, and nutrition by supporting communities in crisis with critical emergency food and nutrition assistance. The investments will also help build resilient health systems and sustainable food systems to overcome setbacks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, global climate crisis, and recurring conflict—to ultimately prevent more children from falling into malnutrition.
The 2021 Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit, hosted by the Government of Japan, builds off the global momentum for food security and nutrition that began at the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September. These announcements progress America’s commitment to leadership in ending malnutrition, improving diets, preventing child and maternal deaths. These investments will place the needs of women and children at the center of our multi-sectoral response to malnutrition.
During the Summit, USAID Administrator Power shared highlights from the newly launched U.S. Government Global Nutrition Coordination Plan 2021-2026, which will guide the collaborative work of seven U.S. government agencies engaged in scaling up proven approaches to better nutrition. For the first time, the highest-level of leadership from USAID, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of State, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Peace Corps have joined forces to launch and execute this plan, marking a major milestone in this whole-of-government approach.
Global and domestic programmatic commitments that demonstrate the longstanding U.S. dedication to ending malnutrition in all forms include:
Policy Action to Advance Nutrition Security in the United States
Together HHS, USDA, and other federal agencies are partnering to improve health and wellness, reduce diet-related chronic diseases, and advance health equity. This whole-of-government approach is guided by the U.S.’s Healthy People 2030 goals and Dietary Guidelines for Americans. To accomplish this, the U.S. will take policy actions aimed to improve nutrition security, including actions to increase access to and consumption of healthy foods, and reduce intake of excess sodium and added sugars. These actions will work synergistically across the U.S. government to amplify impact.
Expanding Data Availability and Use
Timely and credible nutrition data on coverage, quality, scale, and nutrition outcomes are paramount for decision-makers to understand the malnutrition burden and track progress towards key milestones. USAID, through continued partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.N. Children’s Fund, and the World Health Organization, will strengthen national nutrition information systems, sub-national nutrition data availability and use, and capacity strengthening around nutrition data to enable donors, practitioners, and governments to better design, monitor, and evaluate nutrition programs targeting vulnerable populations.
Prevention and Treatment of Wasting
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) strive to reduce the proportion of children suffering from wasting to less than five percent by 2025 and less than three percent by 2030. However, the proportion of children suffering from wasting is projected to substantially increase because of COVID-19. Today, an estimated 50 million children under five suffer from wasting. In response, USAID will strengthen approaches to the prevention and treatment of wasting—when a child is too thin for his or her height as a result of recent rapid weight loss or the failure to gain weight. The commitment builds off USAID’s extensive wasting programming in emergency contexts to address the significant burden in non-emergency contexts, consistent with the Global Action Plan for Child Wasting.
Breastfeeding Promotion and Support
Good nutrition during the first 1,000 days — from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday — is critical to a child’s survival and longer-term health and development. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to provide infants with the perfect blend of essential nutrients and other protective factors during this important growth period. Yet, nearly two out of three infants are not exclusively breastfed for the recommended first six months due to barriers like lack of family support or limited access to skilled breastfeeding counseling. USAID, together with WHO and UNICEF, will partner over the next five years to improve nutrition and health outcomes for mothers and newborns by scaling up quality breastfeeding promotion and support. Through this partnership, technical assistance to governments and local organizations will support a country-led, comprehensive approach to increasing access to skilled breastfeeding counseling and delivering quality services at baby-friendly healthcare facilities.
Improving Diets in Older Children
To address improved nutrition during the next 7,000 days of childhood, the United States is reiterating its commitment to join the new School Meals Coalition: Nutrition, Health and Education for Every Child. The Coalition, which was an outcome of the U.N. Food Systems Summit, strives to bring school nutrition coverage rates back to pre-pandemic levels and to scale it up universally by 2030. Currently, the Coalition has a growing membership of 61 countries. The United States is a member of the Coalition Taskforce and will participate in key Coalition initiatives, including the Financing Taskforce, the Monitoring and Data Initiative and the Research Consortium. The United States, through USDA’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, is the world’s largest international school meals program.