Christopher Hohn and Jamie Cooper established the Children’s Investment Fund (CIFF) Foundation with the sole purpose of improving the lives of poor and vulnerable children around the world in the key fields of neonatal health, HIV transmission, malnutrition and deworming. To date, malnutrition—and related maladies such as stunting and wasting—have been far and away the frontrunners for funding at CIFF.
Along with partners UNICEF and UBS, CIFF announced the creation of the $1 billion Power of Nutrition Fund earlier this year. Power of Nutrition is homing in on improving childhood nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life. CIFF’s $55 million put has certainly helped the Power of Nutrition garner its subsequent commitments of around $200 million.
While $55 million to one fund is a hefty chunk of change, CIFF isn’t slowing down its support of other malnutrition-related undertakings, like its Community Management of Acute Nutrition in Nigeria project, to which it recently granted $45 million.
CIFFs latest cash infusion will support phase two of the Community Management of Acute Nutrition in Nigeria project, which is bringing “community treatment for severely acute malnourished children to scale into the Nigerian health service.”
Nigeria’s severe acute malnutrition (also referred to as severe wasting) rates are among the highest in the world, and one in 10 severely malnourished children live in the country. The aim of CIFF’s $45 million grant is to treat some 1 million children for severe wasting over the next five years. The fund expects the grant to help treat 250,000 children across 11 states in Northern Nigeria every year by providing ready-to-use therapeutic foods and basic healthcare services.
Prior to programs such as CIFFs Community Management of Acute Nutrition, severely malnourished children received all of their treatment in a hospital. This wouldn’t be a big issue if there were enough hospital beds to treat all of the kids who needed them or enough staff to tend to them during their treatment and recovery.
CIFF, along with partners UNICEF and the Nigerian government are able to scale this work so quickly because the program is using a community-based model of care. Meaning that severely malnourished children receive basic healthcare at local health clinics, but are able to recover more quickly at home through follow-up care and the provision of fortified, ready-to-use therapeutic foods.
According to CIFF, over 1 million children have benefited from the program since it began in 2009, and the annual cure rate for severe malnutrition was 85 percent in 2015.
CIFF isn’t the only mega-funder that has children’s malnutrition in its crosshairs. The Gates and Rockefeller foundations are also on a mission to ensure that children living in some of the poorest parts of the world have a better chance at living healthy and productive lives.