1.1  Maternal and childhood undernutrition

The first Millennium Development Goal (MDG 1) calls for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and its achievement is crucial for national progress and development. All the Millennium Development Goals are connected so failing to achieve this goal jeopardises the achievement of other MDGs, including goals to achieve universal primary education (MDG 2), reduce child mortality (MDG 4) and improve maternal health (MDG 5).

One of the indicators used to assess progress towards MDG 1 is the prevalence of children under five years old who are underweight, or whose weight is less than it should be for their age. To have adequate and regular weight gain, children need enough good-quality food to meet their nutritional requirements, they need to stay healthy and they need sufficient care from their families and communities.

To a great extent, achieving the MDG target on underweight in children depends on the effective implementation of large-scale nutrition and health programmes that will provide appropriate food, health and care for all children in a country. Your role as a Health Extension Practitioner is, therefore, key in attaining these goals.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 1

1.1.1  The global burden of childhood and maternal undernutrition