Maternal anemia, even moderate cases, increases the risk of dying during childbirth. Iron deficiency also contributes to poor birth outcomes and can reduce iron stores at birth, jeopardizing cognitive development and increasing the risk of child mortality. Moreover, stunting — a complex process that occurs from conception until a child’s second birthday — is due to inadequate infant and young child feeding and recurrent/chronic illness, and compromises adult height attainment, ability to learn, grade completion in school, productivity, and income.
In collaboration with Ministries of Health and partners, MCSP focuses on evidence-based interventions to prevent and reduce all forms of malnutrition in the first 1,000 days of life (during pregnancy through the child’s second birthday) by integrating nutrition into reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) platforms.
We focus on addressing neglected barriers to optimal maternal, infant and young child nutrition to prevent all forms of malnutrition, including stunting. These include identifying and addressing obstacles to exclusive breastfeeding, improving complementary feeding practices through the development of local recipes, and addressing “junk food” consumption in children less than two years old. MCSP also addresses maternal nutrition and maternal anemia during pregnancy through an integrated package, including iron-folic acid supplementation. Taking a “learning by doing” approach, MCSP uses global and local evidence to address these barriers through program implementation at both the health facility and community level in USAID high-priority countries.
The Program works to increase the reach of nutrition interventions through integrated health programming with tailored, context specific social behavior change interventions and engagement of key influential community members (such as elder women and men). MCSP continues work begun under USAID’s predecessor Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) to support maternal anemia prevention and control using an integrated package of interventions to address the major causes of the condition: nutritional deficiencies and parasitic infections due to malaria and soil-transmitted helminth infections. New to MCSP is an updated version of the K4Health Integrated Anemia Prevention and Control Toolkit, which was developed under MCHIP, with an emphasis on providing guidance and best practices on program implementation.
To download MCSP’s nutrition fact sheet, click here.