Approximately 160 million children under the age of 5 are stunted. This means they are failing to grow well and lack of height can be a marker of a whole range of developmental setbacks including cognitive impairment. The 2013 Lancet series on maternal and child nutrition confirmed that to reduce stunting we need three things: an enabling environment for political commitment; a scaled-up series of cost-effective nutrition interventions and robust underlying drivers (food security, empowered women and a supportive health environment).
The linkages between water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and undernutrition are increasingly recognized by the development community. The vicious cycle between undernutrition and WASH related diseases (such as diarrhea and environmental enteropathy) is more apparent than ever before: children who receive adequate nutritional intake, yet suffer from diseases due to a lack of WASH, aren’t able to fully absorb or take advantage of those calories or nutrients. The cycle continues as those undernourished children are more vulnerable to WASH-related infections. -
In India, a long economic boom has done little to reduce the vast number of cases of malnutrition and stunting in children, leaving them with mental and physical deficits that affect them for the rest of their lives. An emerging body of scientific studies suggest that many of the 162 million children under the age of 5 in the world who are malnourished are suffering less a lack of food than poor sanitation.
Webinar presentation from a webinar on the 25th June 2014,moderated by Helen Petach, USAID, Bureau for Global Health, Office of Health Infectious Diseases and Nutrition andfeaturing
Every year, around 2.4 million deaths worldwide (4.2% of all deaths) could be prevented if everyone practised appropriate hygiene and had good, reliable sanitation and drinking water. The majority of these deaths are children in developing countries dying from diarrhoea and subsequent malnutrition, and from other diseases attributable to malnutrition.
How is an opportunity to prevent so many deaths (and 6.6% of the global burden of disease in terms of disability-adjusted life years or DALYs failing to attract the attention of the international public health community?
The Cochrane Review on WASH and Childhood Undernutrition was launched in November 2013. This study was funded by DFID through the SHARE Research Consortium and provides a definitive synthesis of the current evidence relating improvements in drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to childhood undernutrition.
I have been puzzling to understand why I found this conference so energising and such a good experience. In part it was the choreography and facilitation by Barbara Evans and others – what a difference it makes to have inventive ways of involving everyone and keeping us awake with bits of serious fun, and what a difference when facilitators and presenters are on top of their topics, have new things to share, are driven by controlled passion, and really enjoy themselves. And maybe there is something Ozzie about this – welcome, openness, informality, climate.
Despite large government and NGO programs, despite substantially increased public spending on sanitation, and despite sustained economic growth, open defecation is declining very, very slowly in rural “Hindi heartland” north India. Widespread resistance to using simple latrines in the rural north Indian plains states is a human development crisis and a serious puzzle: this is exactly the place on earth where open defecation is most common and where high population density most raises the human and economic costs of open defecation.
Children in West Bengal and Bangladesh are presumed to share the same distribution of genetic height potential. In West Bengal they are richer, on average, and are therefore slightly taller. However, when wealth is held constant, children in Bangladesh are taller. This gap can be fully accounted for by differences in open defecation, and especially by open defecation in combination with differences in women’s status and maternal nutrition.
A new research brief from the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), Investing in the Next Generation: Growing Tall and Smart with Toilets, examines how the level of open defecation in a community is associated with shorter children in Cambodia. Key findings highlighted in the research brief are that open defecation is associated with greater stunting at every age, and that it is associated with greater stunting even when the household itself does not openly defecate.