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Month: September 2017

Report From UNGA: Progress On Nutrition Is Possible

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by what can seem like insurmountable global challenges. Here at 1,000 Days, we are constantly inspired by stories of success around the world. We know that despite the obstacles that remain, millions of lives have already been transformed by improving nutrition.

Take for instance a recent success story from Peru– where they successfully reduced stunting by 10% over the past five years thanks to tireless advocacy and a comprehensive nutrition strategy. Peru’s success is just one of many global success stories that are featured in a new report released last week by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Stories like this remind us that the work we do can save and improve lives.

The World’s Attention Must Be On Nutrition
Dr. Tedros Speaking At Goalkeepers For Nutrition Side Event

Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director General, World Health Organization

The truth is when it comes to nutrition, we know what works. What’s needed now is an urgent prioritization of proven interventions so that we have the money, the policies, and the partnerships to do what works.

We carried this message to New York last week, as world leaders gathered for the United Nations General Assembly. There, we called on attendees to take urgent and decisive action to increase investments in nutrition to save and improve lives around the world.

In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Power of Nutrition, the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement and the World Health Organization, 1,000 Days hosted an event at UN Headquarters where we were honored to have the new Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom. In his remarks, Dr. Tedros reiterated this call to action: “If we want to end stunting, the world’s attention must be on nutrition.”

1,000 Days’ Mwandwe Chileshe also lent her voice as a global nutrition advocate from Zambia to an event on Good Food and nutrition, hosted by Global Citizen and the SDG2 Advocacy Hub.

As part of her work with Global Citizen, Mwandwe also attended the Global Citizen Festival red carpet where she highlighted that investing in nutrition is critical to ending extreme poverty.

Carrying the Message Forward

The opportunity to be around so many people working to see a world free from poverty and malnutrition was inspiring. And yet, there is much more work that needs to be done.

A recent report highlights a devastating trend: in 2016, the number of chronically undernourished people is estimated to have increased by nearly 40 million people compared to 2015. This news signals the urgent need for greater action and political will in the fight against malnutrition.

We can change this trajectory with concerted action. When good nutrition is prioritized – especially during the critical 1,000-day window between pregnancy and age two – children are given the chance to reach their full potential. And that potential, when nurtured and nourished throughout life, knows no bounds.

At 1,000 Days, we will continue to carry this message forward. A high-level Global Nutrition Summit to be hosted in Italy in November is an important upcoming platform to reinforce that now is not the time to retreat.

Progress is possible, but it is not inevitable. We must act now to invest in nutrition and create a healthier and more prosperous future.

The First 1,000 Days: Listening to America’s Mothers

This Presentation Uses Sound


The numbers and statistics paint a concerning picture for America’s young children and their families: nearly half of all infants and toddlers in the U.S. live in low-income households and 1 in 5 children under the age of 6 live in families that struggle to put enough nutritious food on the table. What’s clear is that too many young children in America aren’t getting the nutrition they need to thrive. But the numbers are only one part of a much more important story: what women themselves have to say about their experiences with nutrition, feeding and diet during pregnancy and their children’s earliest years.

In order to understand the perspectives of mothers themselves, 1,000 Days set off on a listening journey to hear from moms across the country about their thoughts on nutrition and their experiences in feeding their young children. We met nearly 60 mothers –women in rural Oklahoma to urban centers in California; in southern states like Mississippi and Kentucky to Minnesota in the Midwest.

From their very first feeding decisions, the mothers we met face conflicting messages from various sources and too few strategies to put their knowledge into action. Further, they deal with a lack of support in their homes, schools, workplaces and communities. And too often, when they aren’t able to provide what they know is best for their children, moms blame themselves.

Scroll down and listen as Wanda, Chloe and Toshina talk about their personal experiences as moms with young children. Please note, these audio clips were recorded in the women’s homes so there is background noise. You may need to turn up the volume on your headphones.

Wanda

Wanda lives in Kentucky with her husband and 3 boys: a 4-year-old, a 22-month-old and an 8-week-old. In this audio clip, Wanda discusses the challenges of breastfeeding and notes that it can be especially tough in the beginning when mom and baby are still getting the hang of it. At first she didn’t feel comfortable nursing in public, but as time passed she became more confident. Wanda also highlights the hardships many breastfeeding moms face when forced to return to work—especially an unsupportive workplace—before they are ready.

Chloe

Chloe shares a motel room in California with her husband and her three children, all of which are under age 4. In her audio clip, Chloe discusses the challenges she faces in buying and preparing healthy foods for her family. Without an oven or stove, Chloe must rely on a rice cooker and hot plate for all of her cooking. She worries about the safety of her young children with this set-up, especially when they run around the small room – she doesn’t want them to pull the cords and hurt themselves. When Chloe doesn’t have enough food, she visits food pantries or reaches out to other moms she meets through groups on Facebook. She hopes to be able to move out of the motel and into a better housing situation soon.

Toshina

Toshina is from Mississippi, where she lives with her parents and two sons – a 15-month-old and a 2-month-old. In this clip, Toshina shares her story about trying to meet her breastfeeding goals as a high school student. Despite not having any family members who could help her, Toshina started breastfeeding with the encouragement of another mother she met at a local parenting class. Although she loves all the health benefits of breastfeeding, for Toshina, the best part is the connection she feels to her son when she nurses.

We are deeply grateful to each of the women who participated in this research. All of the moms featured in the report provided permissions for their words and photos to be shared, but their names have been changed. They opened up their homes and hearts to us and generously shared their stories. It is an honor to share those stories with you.

For more information and to read about some of the other moms who participated in this research, read The First 1,000 Days: Listening to America’s Mothers.

5 Reasons Why The Latest Effort To Repeal The Affordable Care Act Is Bad For Moms And Babies

While the future of the Senate Republican’s latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is uncertain, one thing is very clear – the Graham-Cassidy bill is bad for moms and babies.

Here’s why:

  1. Maternity, newborn and pediatric care are at risk.
    States would be able to waive the essential health benefits – like prenatal, maternity and pediatric care – currently covered under the ACA. That’s why even physician groups like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are strongly opposing the bill.

    Essentially, this bill could mean a return to a pre-ACA health system when 75% of plans on the individual market did not include maternity coverage. Women would be left to decide between going without needed health services or paying out-of-pocket. That’s a decision no women should be forced to make.

  2. Women could pay more for less health coverage.
    Health plans could charge more for comprehensive coverage. This means more women would be forced to choose between buying cheap bare-bones insurance packages that don’t cover their needs – and paying out-of-pocket for other services (like maternity care) – or paying exorbitant prices for health plans that provide the coverage they need.

    We’d be stepping back in time, before the passage of the ACA, when women could be charged more for their health insurance just because they are women.

  3. Pregnancy could become a pre-existing condition (again).
    Insurers would be able to decide what is – and is not – a pre-existing condition, and then charge more accordingly. Just like before the passage of the ACA, women could be denied coverage (or charged a lot more) for health insurance just for having given birth or being of child-bearing age.

    In fact, according to the Center for American Progress, insurers could charge pregnant women over $17,000 more, putting health insurance out of reach for millions of women – right when they need it the most.

  4. The Medicaid program would be gutted.
    About one TRILLION dollars in federal funding for Medicaid would be cut. Medicaid is a critical source of health insurance for millions of low- and middle-income people. As the largest insurance program for women, it covers the cost of nearly half of all America’s births.

    Without Medicaid, women would become uninsured and lose access to the comprehensive health coverage that they desperately need. For those who could keep their Medicaid insurance, their coverage would likely shrink as states replace comprehensive health services with bare-bones coverage for maternity and infant health services.

  5. It hurts working families the most.
    The bill would end the financial assistance that makes purchasing health insurance possible for millions of America’s middle-income families. It repeals subsidies within ACA – subsidies that currently 85% of people purchasing insurance coverage on the marketplace receive.Coupled with the proposed cuts to Medicaid, the Graham-Cassidy bill would leave millions of Americans without their health insurance, according to analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

Graham-Cassidy is not the health care plan that America’s moms and babies—and thus the country as a whole—need. It is time for all Members of Congress from both parties to work together to ensure women, infants and young children have access to comprehensive and affordable health care they need to thrive.

Bipartisanship Is Possible – And We Need It Now More Than Ever

For the past several months, 1,000 Days and its community has called on Congress to work together to ensure America’s women, infants and young children have access to the comprehensive and affordable health care they need to thrive. From sharing personal stories to engaging directly with Members of Congress, we’ve seen how the power of people can truly affect change. Together, we protected health insurance for America’s moms and babies.

But now, once again, we find ourselves at a crossroads for health care—and we need everyone to weigh in.

On one hand, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Finance Committee have put forward bipartisan legislation to support the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a crucial source of health insurance for millions of children across the U.S. Action is needed by September 30th to protect this important program. The introduction of this bill shows that health care can—and does—transcend partisan bickering.

On the other hand, Senate Republicans are making one last-ditch attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act through the Graham-Cassidy bill. If passed, this bill would prove disastrous for America’s moms and young children.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would strip away comprehensive coverage and result in millions of people—including women and children—losing their health insurance. This bill proposes to:

  • Clamp down on, and quickly eliminate, the federal funding that makes individual coverage affordable.
  • Reduce Medicaid coverage for millions of parents and children.
  • Put benefit decisions in the hands of states and insurance companies, including to allow them to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions.

In short, this bill is a major step backwards for children and their families.

1,000 Days calls on Congress to reject all proposals that repeal the Affordable Care Act and instead to support and quickly advance bipartisan action, like the CHIP legislation, that invests in women, children and America’s future.

Statement on Senate Appropriations Committee’s Passage of State and Foreign Operations Bill

1,000 Days applauds Senate appropriators for their strong, bipartisan support of maternal and child nutrition programs in the Fiscal Year 2018 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. As in the House, the Senate legislation maintains the current funding level of $125 million for nutrition in the Global Health Programs account. Funding from this account supports vital services to improve maternal diets; enhance nutrition during pregnancy; promote breastfeeding; and improve infant and young child feeding practices. These and other activities are foundational to the achievement of broader development goals. The bill, which passed unanimously, also includes report language referencing the need for critical nutrition programs that address malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.

1,000 Days appreciates the bipartisan leadership exhibited by the committee in rejecting the Administration’s proposed deep cuts to global health and development programs more broadly. The funding levels contained in the bill signify Congress’ recognition of the critical importance of continued U.S. leadership in support of these vital programs. During the markup, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chairman of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee stated, “Now is not the time for retreat; now is the time to double down on diplomacy and development. The bill provides vital security, economic, development, health and humanitarian assistance that makes all Americans safer at home.” Similarly, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee said, “This bill repudiates the President’s reckless budget request, and I commend Chairman Graham for reaffirming the primacy of the Congress in appropriating funds.

It is imperative that the full range of nutrition investments are protected and brought to scale so that we can see the tremendous returns possible when contributions from all sources – including the United States – are increased for high-impact interventions: 3.7 million child lives saved, 65 million fewer stunted children, and 265 million fewer women suffering from anemia. Importantly, improved nutritional outcomes require a multi-sectoral response and robust funding across global health, development and humanitarian accounts, as well as sufficient resources to maintain strong technical capacity at USAID and other agencies.

The right nutrition in the 1,000 day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday is an investment in ensuring children can reach their full potential and countries can reach their broader economic development goals. We are grateful to the committee for their leadership and to all Members who have championed greater progress against malnutrition. 1,000 Days looks forward to working with them to ensure sustained and greater gains moving forward.