New scorecard shows mixed picture on national nutrition targets

20 Sep 2016

Setting high ambitions for nutrition to save lives! 

Generation Nutrition, the global campaign bringing together civil society organisations and their supporters to end child deaths from acute malnutrition, launches a new scorecard to assess countries' progress in reaching global nutrition targets. 

Blog post written by Ben Hobbs, Generation Nutrition Campaign Manager, and Christell Hure, Action Against Hunger, on 20 September, and originally posted on the Generation Nutrition website online. 

On the occasion of the start of this year's United Nations General Assembly and a side event on the Decade of Action on Nutrition, Generation Nutrition is launching a scorecard that looks at how well 50 ‘high-burden’ countries are doing in setting national nutrition targets and reaching global ones. The scorecard - available for download - reveals that half of governments in the countries with the highest levels of child malnutrition have yet to adopt national targets on wasting, stunting or exclusive breast feeding. 

The scorecard allocates points and ranks countries according to the following criteria: 

1. Has a national target been set on wasting, stunting or breast feeding? - targets in national plans and Nutrition for Growth targets were considered. 

2. 'SMARTness' of target: is this target up to date? Is it measurable (baseline and objective clear)? Is it aligned with the period of the World Health Assembly global targets - in other words, does it run to 2025? 

3. Is the country making progress towards the global targets on wasting, stunting and breast feeding? - the data source used was the Global Nutrition Report. 

Points were given for a country's performance in each area - wasting, stunting, and breast feeding - and then an overall score was given, reflecting the country's overall performance. 

So, here were our main findings: 

  • Just four countries showed a high level of engagement on setting national targets and reaching global ones: Kenya, Laos, Mauritania and Sierra Leone. 11 others, mostly African states, demonstrated a medium level of engagement. The other 25 scored 'low' or 'very low'. 
  • Around only half of the countries had adopted a national target on wasting, stunting or exclusive breast feeding. Only 18 countries had adopted all three targets. 
  • A high proportion of the targets were measurable, with 66 out of 78; however, very few were aligned to the 2025 timeframe, with only 8 out 78. As many as one third were either out of date, or soon to be, as they only ran until the end of 2016. 
  • 20 of the countries on the high burden list are from Africa. However, our analysis showed that these countries were outperforming their 19 Asian counterparts and by a considerable margin. Only 16% of the Asian countries on the scorecard demonstrated a 'high' or 'medium' level of engagement when it came to setting national nutrition targets and making progress towards the global targets. By contrast, 40% of African countries were in these top two categories. 

In 2012, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted a landmark resolution establishing six global nutrition targets. Since then, progress towards these targets has been slow - this was highlighted in Generation Nutrition's recent "Nutrition Funding: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle" report. Setting national targets can help to build momentum towards reaching the global targets and also provides a clear goal for national plans and programmes. At this year's WHA, all states approved a resolution that recommended the adoption of more national nutrition targets. 

Our scorecard results show clearly the need for more governments in high burden countries to adopt SMART, context specific nutrition targets. These should be aligned with the WHA global targets' timeframe, or at the very least, be renewed if they are outdated. Setting national level nutrition targets is an essential step towards the reduction of malnutrition. Targets and progress often go hand-in-hand. Generation Nutrition urgently call on all governments to show a high level of ambition in order to save lives and ensure good nutrition.

Download the full report online. 

ENDS

End Water Poverty is a member of the Generation Nutrition campaign, as access to safe, adequate WASH and nutrition are directly linked to improving people's lives. Governments, keep your promises - together for a better future for all!