Originally posted on PR Newswire
WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2023
Multiple Micronutrient Supplements hold promise to improve nutrition care for pregnant women and help the next generation survive and thrive
The Eleanor Crook Foundation (ECF) has made a $1.2 million investment in Helen Keller Intl to introduce Multiple Micronutrient Supplementation (MMS) to pregnant women in Nepal to advance implementation research. This project is in service of the vision of Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) to ensure that the nutritional needs of pregnant women are met in the country. MMS is a prenatal supplement that is proven to be safe and effective in improving the nutrition of pregnant women and the long-term health of their children.
Nepal’s female population grapples with a high burden of micronutrient deficiencies caused by poor nutrition and infectious diseases, among other factors. Pregnant women with micronutrient deficiencies face a higher risk of maternal mortality, and their children are more likely to suffer from poor birth outcomes. Despite making significant progress in the last two decades, Nepal’s maternal mortality remains high at 151 per 100,000 live births. Furthermore, in Nepal, nearly one in every ten children is born with low birth weight, a condition that can lead to malnutrition. Helen Keller will explore the barriers and opportunities for integrating MMS into Nepal’s antenatal care system — with the ultimate aim of finding a pathway to improve the health outcomes for millions of pregnant women and their babies.
“Investing in maternal health and nutrition through evidence generation on Multiple Micronutrient Supplementation is vital to improve the health of pregnant women and their children,” said Anil Neupane, Nepal Country Director, Helen Keller Intl. “Helen Keller Intl deeply appreciates the Eleanor Crook Foundation’s invaluable support to further this research in Nepal.”
In Nepal — as in many other low- and middle-income countries — pregnant women suffer from various micronutrient deficiencies that can increase the risk of preterm birth and early pregnancy loss. For decades, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended provision of iron-folic acid (IFA) supplements for pregnant women to address these risks. But IFA supplementation alone is not enough to meet all the nutritional needs of pregnant women, as it only addresses two deficiencies. MMS, on the other hand, contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals, including both iron and folic acid. Remarkably, three recent reviews have shown that MMS has a similar impact on anemia in comparison to IFA, but is more effective at improving birth outcomes, especially among anemic and underweight women.
Nepal’s healthcare system currently endorses IFA for pregnant women, and has a successful IFA implementation program. However, because the country continues to grapple with a significant burden of micronutrient deficiencies, Nepal’s MoHP has signaled a strong interest in this MMS project. Over the next 24 months, Helen Keller will conduct implementation research in three of Nepal’s seven provinces. This research will assess how well pregnant women adapt to taking MMS.
“This new partnership on MMS is a great opportunity to improve the nutrition of women and children in Nepal,” said Dr. Bibek Kumar Lal, Director of the Family Welfare Division at the Nepal MoHP. “We look forward to working with all the partners to support the success of this initiative.”
“MMS has the potential to save millions of children’s lives around the world, but sadly very few pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries have access to it,” said William Moore, CEO of The Eleanor Crook Foundation. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with Helen Keller Intl to support the Government of Nepal’s efforts to adopt MMS. It’s time to eliminate this double standard and provide all pregnant women with good quality prenatal vitamins, regardless of where they live.”
About the Eleanor Crook Foundation (ECF):
The Eleanor Crook Foundation is a growing U.S. philanthropy fighting to end global malnutrition through research, policy analysis, and advocacy.
About Helen Keller Intl:
By delivering the essential building blocks of good health, sound nutrition and clear vision, Helen Keller Intl helps millions of people around the world create lasting change in their own lives so they can reach their true potential.
Eleanor Crook Foundation
Nyequai Harte, Associate Director of Communications