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.
MCSP focuses on evidence-based interventions to prevent and reduce malnutrition in the first 1,000 days of life — during pregnancy through the child’s second birthday — by integrating nutrition into reproductive health, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) platforms. Through the integration of cost-effective solutions, we aim to increase the reach of nutrition interventions through different sectors, influential community members (such as men and grandmothers), and new approaches within countries. In this way, the Program provides nutrition expertise to USAID and priority countries to to improving nutrition programming.
We advocate for greater attention to major and neglected barriers to optimal maternal and young child nutrition. These include identifying obstacles to exclusive breastfeeding, improving dietary intake and weight gain during pregnancy, global learning on community-based distribution of maternal iron-folic acid (IFA) supplementation to increase coverage, and assessing the problem of “junk food” consumption through integration of nutrition into the RMNCH platform in USAID high-priority countries countries. Taking a “learning by doing” approach, MCSP integrates current evidence and lessons learned from countries to address these barriers via program implementation.
The Program also continues work begun under USAID’s predecessor Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program to support maternal anemia prevention and control using an integrated package of interventions to address the major causes of anemia: nutritional deficiencies and parasitic infections due to malaria and soil-transmitted helminth infections. 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. New to MCSP will be updated versions of the K4H Integrated Anemia Prevention and Control Toolkit, with an emphasis on providing guidance and best practices on program implementation.
To download MCSP’s nutrition fact sheet, click here.