EBC/Todd Shapera 2013

uhc means No hunger

In the midst of a worldwide health crisis, this year's World Food Day calls for global solidarity in protecting one of our most basic needs - safe and nutritious food. 

October 16, 2020

On October 16, 2020, the One by One: Target 2030 campaign will honor World Food Day, marking the 75th Anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). With the COVID-19 global health crisis, the number of people facing hunger and starvation has only increased and is expected to double to 265 million this year. Even pre-pandemic, over 2 billion people did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. Compounded by barriers to healthcare and existing food insecurities from environmental degradation and climate change, the pandemic has shown the need for expanded social protections through Universal Health Coverage (UHC). As countries begin to develop and implement COVID-19 recovery plans, we urge them to build back better by investing in UHC and helping to make food systems more resilient. As both individuals and networks, we all have a role to play by promoting sustainable food systems, preserving habits that support them, and joining solidarity efforts to ensure better food for all wherever possible.

Nutrition for Healthy Development

Nutritious food is a fundamental necessity to sustain health, reduce disease, and prevent early mortality. It is especially imperative in children during the early stages of life where the first 1,000 days of a newborn’s life lays the foundation for proper cognitive and physical development.  Adequate childhood nutrition supports immune system development and reduces the risk of developing diet-related non-communicable diseases later in life. Well-nourished children are better capable of combating diarrhea, tuberculosis, pneumonia and malaria. Groups like Nutrition International are implementing innovative solutions that target this critical period for infants through the scale up of multiple micronutrient powders (MMP) to help boost the nutrition quality of complementary foods in young children. PATH's Defeat Diarrheal Disease Initiative (Defeat DD) also promotes nutrition and discusses the inextricable link between malnutrition and diarrhea and the critical role that nutrition plays in preventing childhood illness.

Understanding the challenges and bottlenecks in improving nutrition is the goal for the 2020 SUN Movement Joint-Assessment, which brings together in-country partners and stakeholders to assess their progress and setbacks to scaling up nutrition. The results of the assessment will help identify areas where countries need assistance, mobilize multi sectoral support, and identify best practices for collaboration. 


Learn more:

SUN Movement

Nutrition International

Defeat DD

SUN movement.png

Source: SUN Movement

Sustainable Agriculture and Environment

Agricultural practices, soil health, and food storage are elements of food systems that play a key role in enabling sustainable, equitable access to nutritious food. The double-burden of malnutrition (undernutrition and overnutrition) must be considered when structuring incentives around crop production. Policies, such as crop-specific food vouchers and financial incentives to encourage crop diversification, can promote the production and consumption of diverse, locally appropriate food staples over monoculture cash crops. Zambia’s National Climate Change Response Strategy is an example of a national effort to encourage crop diversification through cultivating indigenous, drought tolerant crops such as cassava, millet, sorghum and sweet potatoes. Organizations like The Global Alliance for the Future of Food also provide resources and guidelines for how to transform food systems to be more sustainable. These policies can play a key role in both mitigating the burden of malnutrition on health systems and economies and building resilience against a changing climate.

Learn more:

Zambia National Climate Change Response Strategy

Global Alliance for the Future of Food

Social Equity

The challenges of malnutrition and food insecurity are inseparable from issues of equity. Considering the impact of malnutrition on development and productivity, poverty and food insecurity can create a harmful cycle that impacts both individuals and countries. The World Bank estimates that on average individuals who are malnourished lose 10% of their potential lifetime earnings while countries can lose 2-3% of their GDP from undernutrition. These realities can be particularly dire for women and children. Evidence suggests that women in Africa are often more


vulnerable to economic shocks, which can increase rates of food insecurity. It remains critical for governments and development actors to implement programs that protect women, children and other vulnerable groups against the economic and socio-political determinants of malnutrition. The Hunger Project aims to do just that through its empowerment training programs and workshops to help women build capacity. In addition, Nobel Prize winner the World Food Programme (WFP) places gender equality and women’s empowerment at the center of its mandate. Its WFP Gender Policy (2015-2020) sets out specific objectives that enable equal access to resources, equal opportunities and an equal voice in decisions that shape households, communities and societies. 


Learn more:

The Hunger Project

WFP Gender Policy (2015-2020).  

Source: WFP Website

This World Food Day, let’s stand to prioritize the importance of nutrition in UHC frameworks to more effectively meet our goal of promoting health for all.

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