Health services must integrate a stronger focus on ensuring optimum nutrition at each stage of a person’s life, according to a new report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is estimated that the right investment in nutrition could save 3.7 million lives by 2025.
Essential health packages in all settings need to contain robust nutrition components but countries will need to decide which interventions best support their national health policies, strategies and plans.
Key interventions include: providing iron and folic acid supplements as part of antenatal care; delaying umbilical cord clamping to ensure babies receive important nutrients they need after birth; promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding; providing advice on diet such as limiting the intake of free sugars in adults and children and limiting salt intake to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Investment in nutrition actions will help countries get closer to their goal of achieving universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. It can also help the economy, with every US$1 spent by donors on basic nutrition programmes returning US$ 16 to the local economy.