The global and local context of maternal and childhood malnutrition

Malnutrition has a devastating impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals and on the economic development of countries.

Two billion people in the world suffer from malnutrition. Some 45% of deaths of children under five years of age are attributable to under-nutrition. Malnutrition is an underlying cause of death of 2.6 million children each year – a third of child deaths globally. 

More than 165 million children under the age of five worldwide are affected by stunting. In some countries as many as half of all adolescent girls and women of child-bearing age are stunted, increasing the risk of poor fetal growth and low birth weight among their children.

The situation in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh, more than half the population suffers from malnutrition. Severe acute malnutrition affects 600,000 children, while close to 2 million children have moderate acute malnutrition. 

Stunting affects 40% of children under the age of five. A quarter of women are underweight and around 15% have short stature, which increases the risk of difficult childbirth and low-birth-weight infants. Half of all women suffer from anaemia, mostly nutritional in origin. Malnutrition is estimated to cost Bangladesh more than US$1bn every year in lost productivity.