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Undernutrition remains a major threat 


The road to UHC will look different in every country, both in how it is financed and how the health system is structured. But it is clear that UHC must deliver on nutrition, in order to fully realise the right to health.  Globally, regardless of the level of development, national governments already engaged in health system reforms, need to take into account the links between nutrition and health.

Undernutrition remains a major threat to the survival, growth and development of children. Globally, 165 million children under five are estimated to be stunted and 45% of child deaths are attributable to undernutrition. Obesity and diabetes are growing problems in both developed and developing countries, leading to a double burden of malnutrition in which some individuals are chronically undernourished, while others are chronically overweight.  Yet nutrition is still a neglected area in public health. 

The setting up and implementation of UHC policies in many developing countries, combined with the increasing interest from UN agencies and donor(s) towards this approach, represents an important opportunity for nutrition to be part of national health policies.  In low income countries in particular, government needs to decide what interventions should be prioritised when defining universal health coverage policies, how will they be delivered and how they will be financed from their often very limited health budgets.  These debates are taking place at national level by ministries of health and finance and at global level by UN agencies and governments.

This briefing paper explores how UHC can deliver on nutrition, and addresses in particular maternal and child undernutrition.

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