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Health and Nutrition Global Theme

Health & Nutrition is one of five global themes prioritized by Save the Children to deliver its new strategy. The other areas are Child Protection, Child Rights Governance, Child Poverty and Education.

Over the past two decades, the world has made remarkable progress in children’s survival and health: child deaths have been reduced by half. This is the result of years of effort and the delivery of a small set of proven health and nutrition interventions. Despite this progress, each year nearly six million children still die before their fifth birthday – most of these deaths are preventable. Progress has been uneven and millions of children have been left behind due to poverty, their ethnic identity, because they live in remote areas or urban slums, or in countries caught up in conflicts. Today, just fourteen countries in Africa and South Asia represent two-thirds of all child deaths (2015).

Globally, the leading causes of death in children under five are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, complications during labour and delivery, diarrhoea and sepsis or meningitis. Causes differ by country: in high HIV prevalence countries, HIV plays a more prominent role, while in countries with high prevalence of malaria, malaria plays a more prominent role. Malnutrition is estimated to contribute to almost half of all child deaths. Most of these deaths are preventable. The challenge is that the services are not reaching the children most in need.

Save the Children’s areas of work in Child Protection, Child Rights Governance, Child Poverty, Education and Health & Nutrition are closely related and interdependent. Save the Children works across all our thematic areas to address the unique and complex causes of illness, malnutrition, and death in mothers, newborns and young children.

Within the health and nutrition thematic area, Save the Children focuses on ensuring that all young children receive the health and nutrition care and services they require to survive. To achieve this goal, Save the Children collaborates with local governments, multilateral institutions, grassroots organizations and others to strengthen health systems, and works with individuals, families and communities to encourage the uptake of healthy behaviors. We work in both humanitarian and development contexts.

From the library:

Health, Nutrition, HIV and WASH: Our ambition and 2016-2018 strategic commitments

This publication summarises Save the Children’s ambitions and strategic commitments related to health, nutrition, HIV and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) between 2016 and 2018.

Save the Children’s ambitions are clearly articulated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2, 3, and 6 (zero hunger, good health and well-being and clean water and sanitation)

Over the course of the next few years, Save the Children will be strengthening our partnerships, scaling up our advocacy work and increasing our cross-thematic work in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contribute to Save the Children’s 2030 breakthroughs:

  1. No child dies from preventable causes before their fifth birthday
  2. All children learn from a quality basic education
  3. Violence against children is no longer tolerated

Save the Children’s work in Health and Nutrition is the cornerstone to the achievement of Save the Children’s Survive breakthrough, no child dies from preventable causes before their fifth birthday. Our work in Health and Nutrition will also be an important contributor to the achievement of the other two.

Photo: Jordi Matas/Save the Children


Save the Children’s health and nutrition programming is organized around seven primary areas of focus:

Published 2016-11-15

Health, Nutrition, HIV and WASH: Our ambition and 2016-2018 strategic commitments

A Common Cause: Reaching every woman and child through universal health coverage

Unequal Portions: Ending malnutrition for every last child

Interdependence among our thematic areas

Save the Children’s areas of work in Health and Nutrition, Child Protection, Child Rights Governance, Child Poverty and Education are closely related and interdependent. As an example, an educated mother is likely to delay her first pregnancy, earn a higher income, and have healthier children; a healthy, well-nourished child is likely to miss less school, achieve more in school, and earn a higher income as an adult; a child living in a wealthier household has a far greater chance of survival than a child living in a poor household, and children protected from sexual abuse, early marriage and violence in the home are more likely to grow into healthy, educated adults.

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