Publications & Reports

The COVID-19 crisis will exacerbate maternal and child undernutrition and child mortality in low- and middle-income countries.

Osendarp S, Akuoku JK, Black RE, Headey D, Ruel M, Scott N, Shekar M, Walker N, Flory A, Haddad L, Laborde D, Stegmuller A, Thomas M, Heidkamp R


The economic crisis and food and health system disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to exacerbate undernutrition in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We developed pessimistic, moderate and optimistic scenarios for 2020–2022 and used three modelling tools (MIRAGRODEP, the Lives Saved Tool and Optima Nutrition) to estimate the impacts of pandemic-induced disruptions on child stunting, wasting and mortality, maternal anaemia and children born to women with a low body mass index (BMI) in 118 LMICs. We estimated the cost of six nutrition interventions to mitigate excess stunting and child mortality due to the pandemic and to maximize alive and non-stunted children, and used the human capital approach to estimate future productivity losses. By 2022, COVID-19-related disruptions could result in an additional 9.3 million wasted children and 2.6 million stunted children, 168,000 additional child deaths, 2.1 million maternal anaemia cases, 2.1 million children born to women with a low BMI and US$29.7 billion in future productivity losses due to excess stunting and child mortality. An additional US$1.2 billion per year will be needed to mitigate these effects by scaling up nutrition interventions. Governments and donors must maintain nutrition as a priority, continue to support resilient systems and ensure the efficient use of new and existing resources.

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  • Journal: Nature Food
  • Published: 19/07/2021
  • Volume: 2
  • Pagination: 476-484