Window of Opportunity
Why Hunger, Why Now?
Recent advances in therapeutic care, both technical and organizational, have opened up new possibilities for expanding our reach and impact in ways previously unthinkable. These new advances can be summarized by two key developments: the creation of more stable therapeutic ready-to-use-foods, and the community-based outpatient models developed to deploy them. These twin developments have reshaped how we manage acute malnutrition today, with far-reaching implications for the 3.5 million lives lost each year to deadly hunger.
The advent of new therapeutic tools and scalable outpatient models are game-changers if brought to scale, and here’s why it’s vital we invest in child nutrition now:
Window of Opportunity
Investments in child nutrition are now widely considered “high-impact” during the “window of opportunity” between pre-pregnancy and two years of age. Prioritizing child nutrition delivers high returns by avoiding irreversible harm and enhancing individual earnings and economic growth over the long-term. Millions of young lives are in need of life-saving treatment and the micronutrients vital to early child development.
Bringing Solutions to Scale
Only 3-10% of the 19 million children afflicted with severe acute malnutrition receive the life-saving treatment they need. Yet acute malnutrition is hunger we can “solve”: we know how to treat it and could save millions of lives with sufficient resources. A massive investment is needed in proven community-based models if we are to scale up our efforts, close the treatment gap, and save some 3.5 million young lives each year.
We must scale up our own programs if we are to help save the millions in need of treatment today, but we can’t do this alone. To make sure our solutions are sustained over time, we work directly with partners to build in-country capacity for the long-term. ACF fosters constructive working relationships with local health authorities to ensure program continuity and life-saving capacity.
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Hunger, or undernutrition, results from the insufficient intake of macro- and micro-nutrients. It can lead to chronic malnutrition (i.e. stunting) or the severe wasting associated with acute malnutrition.
Acute malnutrition is the more immediate killer: It afflicts 55 million children worldwide—19 million of whom face outright starvation—and results in some 3.5 million deaths each year. This loss of life is all the more tragic because acute malnutrition is predictable, treatable, and cost-effective to treat.