Close to 40% of all children in developing countries suffer from Chronic Malnutrition that if not addressed by the age of two, irreversibly damages their brains and bodies. At present very few of those affected get the nutritional support they need and over 1.5 billion people today live shorter, poorer, sicker lives as the result.
Multiple interrelated factors cause malnutrition; poverty, poor public health and high levels of infectious disease, inadequate sanitation and hygiene, low levels of exclusive breastfeeding, limited dietary diversity etc. are all important. However, the final common pathway for all these causes is that nutrient intake fails to meet nutrient requirements. The evidence indicates that the vast majority of people in developing countries have inadequate dietary intakes of key essential nutrients such as Iron, Zinc, Essential Fatty Acids, Essential Amino Acids.
Increasing the nutrient intakes of these people is a necessary (albeit insufficient) element in any solution to Chronic Malnutrition. Increasing nutrient intakes in the most cost effective and scalable manner must complement other interventions to improve public health, feeding practices and agriculture. The interventions that work to achieve this have been described in the Lancet (H/L lancet) and there is international consensus that scaling these up has the highest return on investment of all development activities (H/L Copenhagen consensus). At the individual level, preventing malnutrition leads to massive increases in adult earning and educational potential and at the macro level, it increases GDP in affected countries by an average of 2-3% and by up to 10% in high burden countries.
At present models to scale up these in a cost effective accountable manner do not exist. Despite the billions spent, efforts to address malnutrition have failed to tackle this massive global problem. The dominant public sector “supply-driven” models have not worked and cannot achieve the scale required. Despite rhetoric, at present business is only engaged in this vital issue through short-term Corporate Social Responsibility programmes. These are marginal to core business activities, are not customer / market driven and have neither the scale nor the financial sustainability required to create real change.
Valid International believes that marketing solutions, that create demand for good nutrition amongst low-income populations, are the key to taking these effective interventions to scale. To that end we have invested in developing 2 unique capabilities:
Taken together these capabilities enable us to understand and influence the determinants of Chronic Malnutrition and create demand for the products and services that prevent it.
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