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Covid-19: Nutrition Programmes

Volume 675: debated on Wednesday 29 April 2020

What steps her Department is taking to ensure that nutrition programmes are integrated into the global response to the covid-19 pandemic. (902054)

The UK has long been a world leader when it comes to nutrition, which is why I am looking forward to supporting the Nutrition for Growth summit later this year. We are working hard to stop poor diets making people in developing countries more vulnerable to coronavirus, and we will not allow malnutrition to exacerbate the crisis. For example, we are working through UNICEF to get life-saving supplies to treat acute malnutrition in children across the Sahel, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.

As the Minister said, malnourished people are clearly at a greater risk of serious health problems due to coronavirus than healthy people. How is DFID specifically supporting its partners to adapt their nutritional programmes in the light of covid-19 and working to minimise disruption to supply chains so that we do not see a surge in malnutrition cases?

This is an important point. We know that for every percentage point contraction in global GDP from covid-19 we would expect to see as a result, sadly, up to an additional 4 million stunted children, and acute malnutrition is likely to increase. Between 2015 and March 2019, DFID reached 50.6 million women, adolescent girls and young children with nutrition services in 25 countries, and this includes life-saving treatment for acute malnutrition.