Reducing Global Malnutrition Requires a Multi-Sectoral Approach

Kate Consavage

USAID | Nutrition Communications and Knowledge Management Advisor, Global Health Bureau
New mothers are counseled on proper breastfeeding and nutrition practices by a peer mother during a women’s support group in the Rukiga district of southwest Uganda.

New mothers are counseled on proper breastfeeding and nutrition practices by a peer mother during a women’s support group in the Rukiga district of southwest Uganda. Photo: Kate Consavage/USAID

With one in three people affected by inadequate nutrition, the social, economic, and health consequences of malnutrition are tremendous. Adequate nutrition plays an important role in well-being at all life stages, but the 1,000-day window from a woman’s pregnancy through her child’s second birthday offers a unique opportunity to ensure a child’s proper growth and development for a more prosperous and healthy future. Both the causes and consequences of malnutrition are multi-faceted; therefore, tackling this vast burden requires multi-sectoral coordination and action. Guided by its Multi-sectoral Nutrition Strategy, USAID’s nutrition efforts address both the direct and underlying causes of malnutrition, fostering healthier, more productive individuals and families and more stable and resilient societies.

Understanding both the immediate and long-term effects of malnutrition and the need for a multi-sectoral approach to reduce the global malnutrition burden is necessary for designing effective programs. As nutrition researchers gather new evidence, global health practitioners need to stay up-to-date on these developments to ensure that programming is effective. USAID, through its Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) Project, recently updated the Nutrition: An Introduction course on USAID’s Global Health eLearning Center to reflect the latest nutrition research and developments.

Recognizing the vital roles that individual, family, community, and societal behaviors all play in improving nutrition, behavior-centered approaches are increasingly being used in development and humanitarian contexts. Through social and behavior change (SBC) interventions, USAID and other actors seek to deliver high-impact nutrition interventions to prevent and treat malnutrition, especially during the 1,000-day window. Looking to learn more about SBC for nutrition and how you can use these interventions in your own work? Check out the new Social and Behavior Change for Nutrition eLearning course, created by USAID’s SPRING Project, which outlines SBC models, the design process, and how SBC strategies can improve nutrition, with a focus on nutrition-specific practices.

Hungry for more? The Global Health eLearning Center now also offers a Nutrition Certificate Program, which incorporates a brief course on diarrheal disease in addition to these two courses. Whether you are starting with little nutrition knowledge or are just looking to brush up on the latest terminology and research, these courses are for you!