Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies

what’s the challenge?

Maternal and child undernutrition in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is the underlying cause of nearly half of all child deaths under the age of five. And babies who do survive are at a much greater risk of stunted growth, resulting in poor cognitive function, which limits education and economic opportunities later in life.

Improved maternal nutrition can help ensure that women have healthy pregnancies and their children are born healthy. Iron and folic acid (IFA) supplementation has long been part of antenatal care services provided to pregnant women in LMICs, but they are not the only micronutrients that pregnant women need.

Global goal 2: Zero Hunger

Despite clear and consistent evidence supporting the benefits, safety and cost effectiveness of multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS), they often aren’t available to women who could benefit from them the most. In addition, many women in LMICs cannot afford to consume diets sufficiently rich in micronutrients or access adequate antenatal care. This inequity in maternal nutrition is unacceptable.

Recent systematic reviews and studies show that, compared to IFA supplementation alone, MMS significantly decreases the risk of low birth weight by 12% and very low birth weight by 22% - which are known to increase the risk of infant deaths. MMS has the potential to reduce 6-month mortality by 7% overall and by 15% for girls. Additional important benefits include reductions in preterm birth, small-for-gestational age, and stillbirth.

what’s the opportunity?

Led by the Micronutrient Forum, the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Accelerator aims to dramatically advance the introduction and implementation of MMS through coordinated action over the next three years. This low cost, ready to scale solution will save lives and improve the health of millions of moms and newborns – and address inequity in access to this lifesaving product.

With significant new funding, private sector commitments and new country leadership, we will make much-needed progress against SDGs 2 and 3, with the goal of reducing preventable deaths globally.

the accelerator will:

Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies brings together nearly $50 million in financial and in-kind contributions. Over the next three years, this Accelerator will reach more than 17.5 million pregnant women and their newborns in multiple countries including Myanmar, Indonesia and Bangladesh. More than 10 partners from the private sector, academia, civil society and more have committed to increasing demand, supply, and delivery of high-coverage MMS:

Increase Demand
  • Shape global and national markets to increase access to low-cost, high-quality MMS
  • Conduct implementation research to improve the coverage, efficiency and effectiveness of MMS delivery
  • Provide technical assistance and decision-making tools to countries considering adopting MMS
  • Document best practices to inform scale up in additional countries
  • Provide country specific data to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and positive health outcomes of MMS over IFA for national policymakers via a new cost-benefit tool
  • Conduct national and global advocacy
Increase Supply
  • Work with local manufacturers to enable high-quality local production in several countries, building a network of high-quality MMS producers
  • Manufacture and distribute at least 17.5 million cycles of MMS to national governments and NGOs operating in LMICs
Increase Delivery
  • Introduce and scale up MMS through government and private channels in at least five additional countries, including Myanmar
  • Conduct implementation research to improve the coverage, efficiency and effectiveness of MMS delivery
  • Reach Indonesian midwives and pregnant women via an innovative telemedicine service
  • Create the first sustainable business model to ensure that quality MMS is accessible to all women via pharmacies in Bangladesh

What you can do

Every year, 22.5 million babies are born low birth weight. Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies aims to reduce this number significantly.

ADVOCATE

Advocates can help put MMS on the antenatal care agenda and support national governments to lead policy change and increase resources for maternal nutrition, including MMS.

IMPLEMENT

Program implementers can provide technical support for health systems strengthening in countries, improving supply chains and delivery platforms for the hardest-to-reach, and developing monitoring systems.

CREATE SUPPLY

The private sector can develop high-quality and affordable MMS products.

INVEST

Donors can invest in government-led and owned MMS programs for increased adoption, scale up and sustainability.

To join us or learn more, contact MMSAaccelerator@micronutrientforum.org.