A health worker and young girl in a health clinic.


Improving children's health is a critical part of our work. More than 15,000 children under five are still dying every day—many from illnesses that would be so easy to prevent: pneumonia, malaria—even diarrhea. We’re working to nourish children and mothers, educate communities, and help protect the most vulnerable from everyday illness.


$59.2 million

focused on Health

72 programs

people reached


lives were saved through our Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition programs


In northern Costa Rica, the proportion of adolescents and young people with knowledge about sexual and reproductive health and rights increased from

36% to 89%Costa Rica | 2021-2023

3,414,338children received deworming treatment to support their health and development.


1,797,224items of protective equipment were provided, including medical masks, gloves, surgical gowns and eye protection.


2,079,020ready-to-use therapeutic food packets were distributed, providing a source of emergency nutrition for malnourished children.

Connected Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 02 logo: Zero hungerSustainable Development Goal 03 logo: Good health and well-beingSustainable Development Goal 05 logo: Gender Equality

Explore our investments and results

Explore our investments and results options

Real impact measured

Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) is a model used by World Vision to address child malnutrition worldwide. Acute malnutrition is also known as ‘wasting’ and increases the risk of serious illness or death. As many as 45 million children suffer from the condition, which is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths of all children under 5.


CMAM emphasizes management of malnutrition at the community level rather than in hospital settings. It typically includes the provision of home-based treatment, rehabilitation through ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) and services for pregnant or lactating women.


Implementing CMAM across 39 projects has reduced child mortality, and morbidity in children and pregnant/lactating women.


Communities have been able to achieve the following results:


  • the lives of 6,274 children under 5 were saved
  • $16.80 in health benefits generated for every dollar spent
  • 71,336 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)* averted for children under 5
  • 27 of 39 projects achieved benefits greater than the cost


While children are the primary target group, pregnant and lactating women were identified as a secondary target group and also benefitted. Morbidity rates decreased within this group, resulting in an improvement of 145 DALYs.


*A DALY is a metric that measures the reduction in life expectancy and diminished quality of life caused by disease.


A close-up photo of an infant being fed drinking water from a yellow measuring cup.

Global Challenges

Nutrition is foundational for children's development

In the last 30 years, the number of child and maternal deaths worldwide has decreased by 59 per cent. However, despite this progress, in 2021 five million girls and boys died before their fifth birthday. Approximately 1.9 million babies are stillborn, and among those who are born alive, 6,400 babies under four weeks old die every day. This means that each year 2.3 million children don’t make it past their first month of life—that’s more than all the children in Canada under five years old.


Poor nutrition is often the source of these preventable deaths, deeply impacting women and children at every stage of their development. According to a World Health Organization report, malnutrition contributes to an estimated 45 per cent of child deaths worldwide. Among those who survive, an estimated 148.1 million young children in lower- and middle-income countries remain chronically malnourished, known as “stunted,” a condition that restricts physical growth and brain development.


Stunting that persists beyond the first 1,000 days of life—the critical window when good health, nutrition and nurturing care are foundational for children’s development—have life-long effects on their health, future learning and abilities to achieve their potential.


A staggering 45 million young children also suffer from wasting malnutrition with low weight for their height. This often results from insufficient quantity and quality of food, or infections that cause weight loss. The 13.7 million young children with the most severe cases of wasting are 11 times more likely to die.


Stunting and wasting are not the only threats to children’s good nutrition. Even before the pandemic, two out of five children suffered from anemia in lower- and middle-income countries, making them vulnerable to infections and inhibiting their ability to learn. The situation is even more dire for girls and boys in Africa, where three out of five are affected by anemia.


With Ukraine and Russia being top producers of wheat, fertilizer and fuel, the conflict between them further disrupted the strained global food system. This put nutritious diets even more out of reach for marginalized populations. Mid-2022 estimates hinted that the cost of life-saving therapeutic food to treat severely wasted children would increase by 16 per cent due to rising costs of the ingredients. Despite the concerted efforts of UNICEF and the suppliers of ready-to-use-therapeutic food (RUTF) to limit the rising costs, the weighted average price of RUTF still rose by nine per cent.

Disproportionate health challenges for women and adolescent girls

Every day, more than 800 women—the vast majority in developing countries—die from severe bleeding, infections and high blood pressure related to pregnancy and childbirth, with higher risks of complications among adolescent mothers than adult women.


Lack of proper nutrition can lead to iron deficiency anemia, which affects nearly a third of girls and women of reproductive age, robbing them of the energy needed for higher education, livelihood opportunities and full, productive lives. Severe anemia has the potential to double women’s risk of dying during or after giving birth.


More than 160 million women and girls of reproductive age would like to delay or prevent pregnancy, but can’t access contraception because of limited availability or social and cultural barriers that prevent them from making their own choices on the matter. Despite some degree of recovery among health systems in low- and middle-income countries after the COVID-19 pandemic, a World Health Organization survey completed in early 2023 found disruptions to family planning and contraceptive services showed very little improvement.


It’s also important to note that mental health challenges currently contribute to 14 per cent of the global burden of disease worldwide—and 81 per cent of this burden is hitting families in low- and middle-income countries where access to mental health and psychosocial support services are limited or nonexistent. The prevalence of anxiety and depression increased 25 per cent globally since the start of the pandemic, with younger people and females often reported at a higher risk of being affected.

Health and nutrition in fragile contexts

Approximately 1.9 billion people live in fragile contexts and countries experiencing conflict, making access to healthcare and proper nutrition more challenging for the already at-risk population. By 2030, two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile contexts, and the majority will be children.


Children, youth and women are uniquely and disproportionately affected by conflict and fragility, whether through gender-based violence, inadequate nutrition, broken state-societal relations or insurmountable barriers to basic quality health services. These conditions represent a disproportionate share of the global disease burden, accounting for:


  • More than 70 per cent of epidemic-prone disease cases, such as cholera, measles and meningitis.
  • 75 per cent of maternal deaths.
  • 43 per cent of deaths in children under five.
  • Two-thirds of infant deaths worldwide.


Urgent action is needed to save lives and address immediate nutritional, physical and mental health needs. Now more than ever, the world’s health systems must be strengthened to reach communities in ways that are effective and resilient, while addressing the factors that drive fragility itself.

Please see our Annual Results Report for a full list of references

Two young girls smile at each other as they stand in a grass field with a bicycle.

Approach and Strategy

Our Goal

Children, adolescent girls and women of reproductive age live full and healthy lives

Engage families with essential knowledge and skills
Empower communities to take ownership of their collective health and address existing gender barriers
Partner with health systems to strengthen and support services
Influence governments for policies that protect the most vulnerable, particularly women and girls

World Vision’s health and nutrition work is particularly focused on young children, infants, adolescent girls and women of reproductive age. We build on scientific, evidence-based program approaches, leveraging: our strong community presence to foster positive, gender-responsive changes in health, nutrition and hygiene behaviour; our responsiveness to save lives during humanitarian emergencies and in fragile contexts; and our strategic partnerships to reach more children.


At the household level, through health workers and volunteers, we reach families in their homes with health and nutrition education and dispel misinformation. Caregivers learn the skills to rehabilitate their children from malnutrition while supporting their long-term health. We also mobilize people to access available health services and preventive care, like immunizations.


At the community level, we work with schools and youth groups to ensure adolescents—especially girls—learn about nutrition and health, including their own sexual and reproductive health and rights. We also promote women and adolescent girls’ active involvement in community matters that affect their health and well-being. By engaging community and faith leaders, men and boys, we address entrenched cultural and gender barriers that harm the health and rights of children, adolescent girls and women. We empower communities to improve the availability, quality and accountability of their health services and constructively advocate to service providers.


At the systemic level, we collaborate with district, provincial and regional health management teams, running joint campaigns and outreach, and supporting the health workforce with training on gender-responsive practice standards. We also lead and participate in strategic alliances with our peers in the humanitarian and development sectors, advancing health and nutrition movements that influence national policies and accountability.


In fragile contexts, we equip and refurbish health facilities so they can provide effective health and nutrition care, especially to the most vulnerable.

A white jeep driving through a muddy path, featuring a rainbow and trees in the background.

Investments and Results

In 2023, $59.2 million was invested in 72 programs focused primarily on health approaches, reaching 2,485,058 girls, 2,369,125 boys, 2,041,334 women and 1,900,057 men. Funding shifted slightly in favour of the most fragile countries compared to 2022. This was due mostly to crisis response and grants supporting Syria, Ethiopia, Yemen and Somalia.

With the majority of COVID-19 programs closing down between 2021 and 2022, many indicators that were skewed due to the pandemic response are now slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels. In addition, the Health sector is particularly prone to high levels of variability year over year due to changes in the volume of corporate gifts-in-kind. Nevertheless, a number of programs continue to bring positive change to the communities they serve. These include the Enhancing SRHR in Costa Rica program which benefitted from a grant, in partnership with the European Union, focused on sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescents and youth.


This year saw a new surge in nutrition programming, with many progress indicators trending upward compared to previous years. There was an increase in malnutrition treatment numbers (from 22,735 to 81,740 cases) led by the work of grants in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia, particularly the Global Hunger Crisis grant in South Sudan and Ethiopia.


There was an increase in micronutrient supplementation such as Vitamin A, zinc and micro-nutrient powers led by the work of programs in Mali, Somalia and Tanzania. Finally, participation in activities that teach healthy nutrition and feeding practices was positively influenced by the grants Nutrition Systems Strengthening in Angola, FEED II in South Sudan, and the nutrition focused response to the Hunger Crisis in Ethiopia.


We completed our cost-benefit analysis of the Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition model, giving us more visibility into the achievements and challenges of our program implementation.

A wide-shot image of two people wearing backpacks, looking up at a massive green mountain area.



Efforts put in by families and communities over the past several years have contributed to measurable positive change. Here are some recent health examples.


A young woman wearing a striped white shirt and standing in a manicured garden smiles with folded arms.

At 18 years old, Laila is already a leader in her community in Tanzania. She’s a lead volunteer for the Accelerated Hope and Development for Urban Adolescents project in partnership with Global Affairs Canada. The project provides a safe space for adolescent girls and boys to become empowered with knowledge about adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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A young girl smiles as she is flanked by four other women and girls. One of the women rests a friendly hand on the girl's shoulder.

What does gender equality have to do with health? Plenty. Because women and girls are less valued, it can mean an empty stomach as they eat least and last. That means more malnutrition and its related, negative health effects, including severe anemia and babies at greater risk of death before age 5. The children that do survive are more likely to suffer from poor growth and brain development, which only perpetuates a cycle of poverty and malnutrition.

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A woman with a baby strapped to her back waits in a health clinic along with several other people.

Access to basic healthcare is critical to solving poverty. According to the World Health Organization, about 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty each year due to out-of-pocket spending on health. Here’s a scenario illustrating how a family can move from illness to poverty simply because of a lack of affordable healthcare.

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Unless otherwise stated, data presented on this page reflects the most up-to-date results of World Vision Canada programs reported between October 2022 and September 2023, and any previous fiscal years available. Previously reported data may not match the current presentation as we continuously receive and refine data from our programs. If you have any questions, kindly reach out to us.