GAIN Statement @ WHA 73

Geneva, 19 May 2020 - 

Deny COVID-19 a chance to leave an inter-generational legacy.

The collateral effects of necessary lock-down and physical distancing measures may, unless accompanied by measures to protect infant and young child nutrition, damage lives for many decades. While needed to curb disease spread, containment measures are disrupting nutrition and social protection interventions and food systems. Early tracking shows price increases of several nutritious foods; market closures and labour disruptions affecting livelihoods are decreasing nutritious food access, particularly for low-income households (1) . If we do not act to protect infants and children during the critical first 1000 days from conception to 24 months of age, their growth and development will be permanently affected by consequent nutritional deficiencies (2) .

This situation amplifies urgent recent calls to action for nutrition across sectors (3). We urge all sectors to:

  1. Protect coverage of nutrition interventions through the health-system for pregnant women, infants and children;
  2. Safeguard social protection systems, emphasizing facilitated access to, or provision of nutritious foods;
  3. Keep the food systems working by:
  • supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that supply most food for low-income consumers globally;
  • calling on multinational food companies to support farmers and SMEs in the global food supply chain;
  • protecting food systems workers, by adapting work-spaces to keep them safe and minimize exposure, and by supporting workplace nutrition programmes that protect and promote breastfeeding, and promote and/or provide nutritious food at work.

Only by protecting food and nutrition can we deny COVID-19 an inter-generational legacy.

Dr Tedros speech at the WHA 73

Dr Tedros opening the World Health Assembly (WHA) 73. © WHO / Christopher Black


  1. Torero M. Without food, there can be no exit from the pandemic. Nature 2020; 580: 588-589. doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-01181-3
  2. Shekar M, Kakietek J, D'Alimonte M, Walters D, Rogers H, Dayton Eberwein J, Soe-Lin S, Hecht R. Investing in nutrition the foundation for development an investment framework to reach the global nutrition targets. Washington, DC: The World Bank, Results for Development, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CIFF, 1000 days. 2016.
  3. Branca, F, Demaio A, Udomkesmalee E, Baker P, Aguayo VM, Barquera S, Dain K, et al. A New Nutrition Manifesto for a New Nutrition Reality. The Lancet 395, no. 10217 (4 January 2020): 8–10.