Stop Stunting │ Power of Maternal Nutrition

Scaling up the nutritional care of women in South Asia

UNICEF South Asia
Mom and baby
UNICEF ROSA/2017/Brown
07 May 2018

The nutritional status of women before, during and after pregnancy affects women’s well-being and has long-lasting impacts on the growth, development, and health of children across the first 1000 days and beyond. Children who are born small due to poor maternal nutrition start life at a huge disadvantage. They are more likely to become wasted or stunted in early life, to do less well at school, earn lower wages as adults and are at greater risk of overweight, diabetes and chronic heart disease in later life

In South Asia, there has been progress on improving women’s nutrition, but this progress is not swift enough. One-third of the world’s anaemia women live in South Asia, and no country is on track to meet the global nutrition target to reduce anaemia by 50 per cent by 2025. Maternal short stature and thinness persist, alongside a rapidly rising burden of overweight and obesity.

Given the close links between maternal and child nutrition, efforts to improve the nutritional status of women are critical to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and global nutrition targets on ending all forms of malnutrition, and in unleashing the developmental potential of countries in South Asia. In November 2016, WHO released new guidelines on improving antenatal care for women, including a comprehensive set of recommendations on nutritional assessment, nutrition interventions and the prevention of diseases that can cause poor nutrition. These guidelines can assist countries in ensuring policies and programmes are designed to meet the nutritional needs of women during pregnancy. 


The Regional conference on STOP STUNTING |The Power of Maternal nutrition - Scaling-up the nutritional care of women during pregnancy and postpartum in South Asia has been organized by The South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation and the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia, together with Nutrition International, to identify actions to accelerate the nutritional care of women during pregnancy and postpartum in South Asia. It brings together government representatives, researchers, UN partners, civil society organizations and other development partners from across South Asia to exchange regional analyses, expertise and experience on improving comprehensive maternal nutrition services delivered through antenatal care.

The specific objectives of the Conference are to:

  1. Position the nutritional care of women during pregnancy and postpartum as an essential component of evidence-based interventions to support optimal nutrition and development in the first years of life in South Asia.
  2. Share new regional and global evidence and guidelines on maternal nutrition, and lessons and best practices in the region.
  3. Identify actions to accelerate improvements in the nutritional care of women during pregnancy and postpartum across the region, within the context of ongoing multi-sectoral actions to improve nutrition.



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