A welcome speech on May 11 from the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on undernutrition. Although USAID is under the Secretary of State, this is a fairly remarkable level of attention for this issue.
The speech was accurate in the stats, and reflected current thinking about the levels and consequences of nutrition and some of the technical things that can be done to reduce it. I liked the sticky messaging around the first 1000 days (the window of opportunity from pregnancy to 2 years of age).
One major disappointment--nutrition still has to work through other new US initiatives in agriculture and in health systems. Fair enough, this where the money is. The disappointment was the lack of attention given to the governance and leadership of the nutrition strategy.
As I have argued many times before, because undernutrition is a cross-sectoral issue and because it is quite invisible, fighting it requires strong leadership --and the supporting institutional infrastructure-- for advocacy and coordination. I very much hope this gets addressed soon.