U.S. Government Has Chance to Show Support for Breastfeeding

This week world leaders have the opportunity to vote on a very important resolution for the health and well-being of mothers and babies at the World Health Assembly. The WHO Guidance on Ending the Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children provides critical guidance for countries to protect and promote breastfeeding.

Around the world misleading and aggressive marketing of infant formula undermines too many women’s confidence in their ability to breastfeed, which is why it is so important that the U.S. government support the resolution put forward this week at the World Health Assembly.

The research clearly shows that the aggressive, extensive and inappropriate promotion of formulas for infants and toddlers is contributing to a decline in optimal breastfeeding, which ultimately deprives mothers and children of important health benefits. Conversely, improving the rates of optimal breastfeeding can prevent an estimated 823,000 deaths of children under the age of 5.

Did you know that the infant formula industry spends about $4 billion a year on promoting their products? That’s more than the amount that governments spend on supporting breastfeeding. No wonder breastfeeding rates are so low.

The U.S. government must step up to support this resolution at the World Health Assembly this week. To not do so would be to place commercial interests ahead of the health and well-being of moms and babies.

We’re Igniting a Movement to Give All Kids a #FAIRSTART

With the lighting of the Olympic torch today, we’re igniting a different kind of movement. We’re teaming up with athletes and partners – including Athletes for Hope, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many others – to shine a light on the issue of malnutrition around the world.

More than 100 Olympic athletes – past, present and hopefuls – are joining 1,000 Days and demanding that this Olympics, world leaders give kids everywhere a #FAIRSTART in life by starting the race to end malnutrition.

So why is nutrition the issue that these Olympic athletes are choosing to highlight at such a critical time? They know better than anyone that in life – as in sports – how you finish is largely determined by how you start. They are at the culmination of a lifetime of preparation and training that started with access to basic nutrition in their first 1,000 days of life.  And this has played a role in getting them to where they are today.

The health and development benefits a child receives in this critical 1,000 day window from a woman’s pregnancy through her child’s second birthday can never be lost, nor can they be regained if the window is missed.

Unfortunately, too many kids throughout the world start out life at a big disadvantage due to malnutrition. Almost 50% of all childhood deaths are a result of malnutrition. And 25% of all children are robbed of the chance to reach their full potential.

Athletes and supporters around the world are using the Olympic stage to highlight this incredible opportunity to ensure that children everywhere are given a #FAIRSTART to reach their own full potential in life—whether that takes them to the Olympics or just to other incredible heights, they all deserve the opportunity to be put on the right track.

We’re asking fans, parents and supporters everywhere to sign the petition urging world leaders to start race to end malnutrition this Olympics. Together we can give kids everywhere the #FAIRSTART they deserve!

You can help by signing the petition and sharing it with your friends.

World Leaders Make the Case for Investing in Nutrition

On April 17, global development leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. to lay out the research from a new groundbreaking study that gives policymakers and advocates a roadmap for how the world can accelerate progress against malnutrition.

Bill Gates – co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – delivered the event’s keynote address, highlighting the important role of nutrition in building healthier, more prosperous communities.

“This issue affects everything about child development. And it even affects everything about education and economic development,” said Gates.  He went on to say that if he had one magic power to solve the world’s challenges, nutrition would be that power. “Nutrition belongs at the top of the list.”

Credit: Paul Morigi/AP

Caption (left to right): Kate Hampton of Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Keith Hansen of the World Bank, Bill Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Marie-Claude Bibeau of Canada. 

Yet, nutrition programs are woefully underfunded. For every dollar spent on health, developing countries devote less than one half a penny for nutrition. For overseas development aid, it is less than one penny per dollar.

“The world now needs $7 billion additional per year for the next decade to achieve the nutrition targets,” said Keith Hansen, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank. “I want to remind you, that between the time that you sat down today and midnight tonight the world will invest $1 billion in agriculture subsidies in the rich countries and in fossil fuel subsidies around the world. And by lunch on Wednesday we will have spent $7 billion on those sorts of things.”

Caption (left to right): International journalist Femi Oke, Akin Adesina of the African Development Bank, Marie-Claude Bibeau of Canada, Ariela Luna of Peru. Credit: Paul Morigi/AP

Credit: Paul Morigi/AP

Caption (left to right): International journalist Femi Oke, Akin Adesina of the African Development Bank, Marie-Claude Bibeau of Canada, Ariela Luna of Peru.

Speakers underscored the connection between investing in nutrition and economic growth.

“The greatest contributor to economic growth is not necessarily fiscal infrastructure but brainpower,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

Want to hear more? Check out the videos from the event to learn more about how this investment framework charts a roadmap for tackling malnutrition.

This event – and the new findings – make it very clear that the world cannot afford to wait any longer to prioritize nutrition. World leaders must make the proper investment in nutrition.

As Gates pointed out: “While progress is possible, it is not inevitable… We know there are proven cost-effective tools to combat malnutrition – such as food fortification and breastfeeding. Investing in these interventions will help ensure millions more children globally have the opportunity to survive and thrive.”

Join conversation on Twitter with hashtag #InvestInNutrition.


5 Ways Investing in Good Nutrition is Working

The scale of malnutrition can be overwhelming. Every year it kills over 3 million children under the age of 5 and leaves another 159 million stunted. Yet, the world holds the solutions to prevent malnutrition. When individuals, communities and organizations come together to focus their efforts on improving nutrition, women are healthier, children can survive and thrive, and nations can prosper.

Here are five examples of how investments in maternal and child nutrition are working:

  1. Parents in Zambia are uniting to reduce malnutritionWorld Vision’s Christina Bradic shows the power of communities to improve nutrition education.
  1. Vietnam triples its breastfeeding rates in just 5 years1,000 Days’ Lucy Sullivan lays out what the U.S. and others can learn from investing in breastfeeding promotion and support.
  1. Women and girls are key to ending intergenerational cycles of malnutrition and povertyONE’s Tom Hart makes the case for what’s needed to break the cycle of poverty and malnutrition.
  1. Maternal nutrition saves livesSave the Children’s Mark Shriver shares how countries can save the lives of moms and babies by investing in maternal nutrition.
  1. Good nutrition fuels a country’s economyWFP USA’s Allan Jury explains what countries need to do to capitalize on these economic opportunities.

Clearly we know what works, and we can see the powerful results when we invest in maternal and child nutrition.

This August, world leaders will gather in Brazil to commit to ending malnutrition as part of the Nutrition for Growth summit. It is essential that countries come to the table with strong pledges, for this is an opportunity to build healthier and more prosperous futures for all.

Marching for Nutrition on Capitol Hill

This week 1,000 Days and our partners came together on Capitol Hill to tell Congress why 2016 is the year to invest in global nutrition and reinforce the critical importance of U.S. government leadership to bring an end to malnutrition in all its forms. We met with 15 Congressional offices, including both Democrats and Republicans.

This year is nutrition’s “Olympic moment” as world leaders will gather on the eve of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil at the Nutrition for Growth summit to make bold commitments towards ending malnutrition. While malnutrition early in life leaves one in four children physically and developmentally stunted—an irreversible condition that limits a child’s ability to grow, learn, and thrive—only a small fraction of the funding for global health programs goes to the proven, life-saving nutrition programs that children need.

Now is the time for governments to prioritize the health and well-being of the world’s youngest children by investing in nutrition.

Nutrition investments are core to the success of the U.S. government’s two flagship initiatives – Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths and Feed the Future. As we made clear to policymakers this week, the United States is poised to make a gold-medal pledge at Nutrition for Growth, but we need their support and action to make this a reality.

Update Photo 2

Meeting with Representative Renee Ellmers (R-NC)

Today, nearly half of child deaths under the age of 5 are due to malnutrition, claiming the lives of nearly 3 million children every year. If the U.S. government increases funding, it can prevent millions of women and children from suffering the plight of malnutrition and not reaching their full potential.

Now is the time for the U.S. to invest in nutrition and transform the lives of women, children and entire communities. Join us this month as we #March4Nutrition!

1,000 Days Reacts to President’s Budget Request

Today, President Obama released his budget request for fiscal year 2017. Below is the reaction from Lucy Sullivan, 1,000 Days’ Executive Director:

We are deeply disappointed by the Obama Administration’s final budget request for fiscal year 2017 (FY17) of $108.5 million for nutrition within the Global Health Programs Account.  When 45 percent of child deaths are a result of malnutrition, it is unconscionable that the administration continues to under-invest in critical, life-saving nutrition programs.

Moreover, the FY17 request for nutrition is inconsistent with the Administration’s stated priorities. Nutrition investments are core to the success of the U.S. government’s two flagship initiatives – Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths and Feed the Future.  Without greater investment in nutrition, the U.S. government will continue to fall short of its development aims and will be unable to fulfill the vision it so thoughtfully laid out in the USAID Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy.

The Administration’s FY17 request is particularly disheartening in light of the fact that the government of Brazil will be convening world leaders later this year on the eve of the Olympic games in an effort to ensure new commitments are made to put the world on track to meet the agreed-upon global goals to tackle malnutrition. U.S. government leadership at this summit is more critical than ever and sorely needed in order to mobilize new domestic and donor resources for nutrition.  

Urging Congress to Get with the (Paid) Leave Program

Last September 1,000 Days launched a petition on Facebook urging Congress to get with the (paid) leave program. And Americans responded in record breaking numbers!

On Thursday, February 4, 1,000 Days and our friends at the National Partnership for Women & Families had the honor of delivering over 230,000 petition signatures from all 50 states to Congress.

In the United States, too many parents are forced to choose between the jobs that they need and the families that they love.

The U.S. is the only industrialized country without a national paid leave policy, so perhaps it’s not surprising that we’re also a country with low breastfeeding rates and high infant mortality rates. There is a strong correlation between access to paid leave and the length of time a mother is able to successfully breastfeed, the best source of nourishment and immunity for babies. In addition, paid family leave has shown to reduce infant mortality by as much as 20 percent. Yet less than half of new moms in the U.S. have access to paid leave. In fact, one in four women are going back to work just TWO weeks after giving birth!

This is a real life issue for many Americans—many of whom shared their personal experience around paid leave with us. Stories of moms who are forced to leave their babies while still in the NICU, or women who must return to work just days after giving birth despite their bodies not having recovered, or dads who must choose between caring for their wives and newborn babies or their jobs—all simply because the U.S. does not have a paid family leave program.

Let’s keep building  MOMentum for paid leave

In a recent poll by the National Partnership for Women & Families, 79 percent of Americans say they support paid family leave. Yet, the Family And Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act) is stalled in Congress. That’s why 1,000 Days and the National Partnership made sure that American’s voices were heard throughout the halls of Congress.

The momentum for paid family leave is growing—three states have paid family leave policies, companies like Amazon and Facebook are ramping up their policies, and presidential candidates are talking about the issue. But we need to keep up the fight in 2016 and beyond!