Emerging research shows an inverse relationship between taking iron-folic acid (IFA) supplements and child mortality: neonatal mortality drops as much as 50% when mothers take the recommended number of IFA supplements during the first trimester of pregnancy.
MCSP supports maternal anemia prevention and control using an integrated package of interventions to address its major causes using IFA supplements, malaria control, and deworming. We are also expanding work begun under USAID’s predecessor Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program to use eHealth strategies to improve compliance with the full regimen of this package, and finding innovation solutions to supply-side problems, including developing a tool for better forecasting of commodities. Community-based distribution and other entry points with women—such as existing marriage registration programs in some countries—are being explored as channels to introduce IFA early and increase coverage.
Other elements need to be added to or strengthened in the integrated package for anemia, including: family planning; birth spacing, and behaviors that will improve sanitation and hygiene to reduce infections, particularly diarrhea, at the household level. Demand-side issues for full uptake of the package also need to be considered, including gender-related barriers that limit women’s access to health services and using optimal behaviors.