Joint statement on child wasting and the launch of the Nutrition Match Fund
By UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation Chief Executive Officer Kate Hampton, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation President of Global Development Division Chris Elias
NEW YORK, 6 December 2021 – “A malnutrition crisis is unfolding before our eyes due to a toxic combination of rising poverty and inequalities, conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. We now fear that an additional 9 million children may suffer from wasting—the most severe form of malnutrition, which can increase the risk of death up to 11 times that of a well-nourished child. This is in addition to the 45 million children already suffering from this most severe form of malnutrition.
“It is unacceptable that child wasting—which should be consigned to history—is on the rise. Children suffering from wasting live in the poorest and most marginalized communities. While malnutrition is the underlying cause of nearly half of child deaths, only one in four severely wasted children gets the treatment they need. Those who survive can still face irreversible developmental damage.
“We must change this now and we can.
“UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) are committed to support national governments to scale up proven solutions to prevent child wasting and provide treatment for all wasted children. To do so, we are coming together to launch a catalytic Nutrition Match Fund that will increase the availability of life-saving supplies for the prevention and treatment of child wasting whilst incentivizing investment of domestic resources to scale up wasting prevention and treatment services in countries with the greatest need.
“The Fund was created in early 2021 with generous initial seed funding from the UK Government and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. Since then, in recognition of the the Fund's potential, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed an additional $10 million to support the Fund and expand the range of products it offers to include maternal nutrition products that support women's health and contribute to the prevention of wasting. The Fund provides a 1:1 match, so every dollar, naira or shilling each country invests in nutrition commodities for the prevention and treatment of child wasting, the Fund contributes an additional one.
“After just six months, country demand for the Fund has already exceeded expectations; through December 2021, nearly $4 million of incremental domestic resources have been leveraged from several countries including Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda.
“These commitments illustrate how powerful it can be when international and domestic resources and leadership are aligned. Ultimately, we can only end malnutrition through collective action that aligns our resources behind proven solutions.
“We urge global and national stakeholders—donors, governments, and private philanthropies alike—to support the fund and its mission. Together, we have the resources, skills, and political clout to reverse the malnutrition crisis and eliminate child wasting.
“Together, we can put every child on a path to good nutrition and a brighter future.”