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Kraef, Christian; Wood, Benjamin; Philipsborn, Peter von; Singh, Sudhvir; Peterson, Stefan Swartling; Kallestrup, Per (2020): Primary health care and nutrition. In: Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Vol. 98, No. 12: pp. 886-893
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Globally, dietary factors are responsible for about one in five deaths. In many low- and middle-income countries different forms of malnutrition (including obesity and undernutrition) can co-exist within the same population. This double burden of malnutrition is placing a disproportional strain on health systems, slowing progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). Poor nutrition also impedes the growth of local economies, ultimately affecting the global economy. In this article, we argue that comprehensive primary health care should be used as a platform to address the double burden of malnutrition. We use a conceptual framework based on human rights and the Astana Declaration on primary health care to examine existing recommendations and propose guidance on how policy-makers and providers of community-oriented primary health care can strengthen the role of nutrition within the UHC agenda. Specifically, we propose four thematic areas for action: (i)~bridging narratives and strengthening links between the primary health care and the nutrition agenda with nutrition as a human rights issue; (ii)~encouraging primary health-care providers to support local multisectoral action on nutrition; (iii)~empowering communities and patients to address unhealthy diets; and (iv)~ensuring the delivery of high-quality promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative nutrition interventions. For each theme we summarize the available strategies, policies and interventions that can be used by primary health-care providers and policy-makers to strengthen nutrition in primary health care and thus the UHC agenda.