Upcoming webinars and other virtual events

Separated by quarantines and travel restrictions, nutrition stakeholders have turned to virtual events to connect, share information and discuss issues. Below is a selection of upcoming webinars and virtual events of interest – a list we will update weekly (so check back regularly!).  The list includes three sections, Webinars, Conferences, and Useful Online Resources.

Please share your webinar or other virtual activities of interest: Send us an email with the details (be sure to include date, time and a link) or share the information on social media using the hashtag #OnlineMIYCN!

Webinars

Food Systems and Nutrition Webinar Series: UCC Centre for Global Development and IFIAD

March 26, April 16 and April 30; times vary

UCC Centre for Global Development and IFIAD will host a three part webinar series on Food Systems and Nutrition. Speakers will include Johan Swinnen, Anna Herforth, Mary Corbett, Sudha Narayanan, Nick Nisbett, Ayako Ebata and Lily Schofield. The webinars will cover the impacts of Covid-19 on food systems (26th March), the affordability of nutritious foods (16th April), and women’s empowerment and nutrition (30th April), presenting the latest evidence and research on these issues. The series aims to highlight work being done by Irish development institutions, and generate discussion on how to move forward, looking toward the UN Food Systems Summit.

Register here.

Mycotoxin Exposure and Nutritional Status in the First 1000 Days: USAID Advancing Nutrition, JSI Research & Training Institute

April 1 @ 9am EDT 

The two-part webinar series focuses on mycotoxin exposure and nutritional status in the first 1000 Days from pregnancy through the first two years of a child’s life. This first webinar will explore the link between nutritional status and mycotoxin toxicity. The second webinar will focus on programmatic and policy implications of this relationship. Please stay tuned for more information on the second webinar set on May 20.

Conferences

iLactation has invited “Rock Stars of Lactation”, including A&T’s own Regional Technical Specialist in Southeast Asia Jenn Cashin, to be speakers at their18th online breastfeeding conference on the theme Feeding the future. Jenn will present on A&T’s recent research covering how our review of global COVID-19 breastfeeding and newborn care guidelines revealed misalignment with World Health Organization recommendations. The conference will be online from IBCLC Day, March 3 until June 3, 2021, with 18+ hours of education. CERPs and other professional development credits will be available.

Register here. 

Useful Online Resources

Investing in Child Nutrition: E-learning Course on Infant and Young Child Feeding from A&T, UNICEF, Global Health Media Project, & Raising Children Network 

Working with UNICEF and a global network of experts, Alive & Thrive developed an e-learning course based on the World Health Organization (WHO) Combined Course on Growth Assessment and IYCF Counselling as a free online resource to address gaps in training for those working in child health and nutrition in developing countries, especially in primary healthcare and community settings. Available in English and French, the self-paced course can be used as a solid introduction or a refresher course; modules include counselling skills, breastfeeding, complementary feeding, and growth assessment. Resources on COVID-19 and breastfeeding have been recently added to the platform.  

Online training courses on nutrition from Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy has created free online certificate courses as part of the Feed the Future Ethiopia Growth through Nutrition Activity. The intended audience for these courses includes those who are engaged in designing, implementing, funding and evaluating multisectoral programs and policies in Ethiopia and other LMIC countries. Each module involves an online lecture and completion of a quiz. Additional courses are added as they become available. Recently added: COVID-19 and Nutrition.

Capitalizing on fears, companies promote breastmilk substitutes during the pandemic

Breastfeeding saves lives and provides antibodies that give all babies a healthy boost and protect them against many infections. Antibodies and bioactive factors in breastmilk may fight against COVID-19 infection, if baby is exposed.

Manufacturers of breastmilk substitutes (BMS) are capitalizing on COVID-19 fears by using health claims and misinformation about breastfeeding to deceive millions of breastfeeding mothers into using breastmilk substitutes, a new review of their promotional materials and activities in major world regions shows. Alive & Thrive programs across the globe collaborated to complete the study.

Read the abstract and access the full text of the paper here.

“These tactics are not new, but the pandemic has provided a new entry point, helped along by the unprecedented boom in digital marketing,” said Roger Mathisen, director of Alive & Thrive’s program in Southeast Asia, and co-author of the study. “These tactics clearly violate the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, and are unconscionable at a time when mothers and families are particularly vulnerable.”

“Breastfeeding and its nutritional and protective health benefits are particularly important in the context of COVID-19, as the pandemic is straining health care systems and increasing food insecurity, especially in low- and middle-income countries,” added Manisha Tharaney, director of Alive & Thrive programs in West Africa.

Breastfeeding is critical to maternal and child health and survival, and its protection persists throughout the lifespan. Inappropriate marketing of BMS, feeding bottles, and teats threatens the enabling environment of breastfeeding, and exacerbates child deaths, diseases, and malnutrition, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The costs of not breastfeeding are well known.

Alive & Thrive researchers in the Southeast Asia and West Africa regions and at country offices in the Philippines and Burkina Faso collaborated to review various companies’ promotional activities. They analyzed promotional activities and materials dating from 30 January 2020, when the WHO declared COVID-19 a “public health emergency of international concern.”

The promotional materials, in multiple languages, appeared on the internet (e.g., infant feeding and child nutrition blogs, social media, company websites), in print magazines, in information sent to networks of health officials and professionals, at health facilities, and in shops. Among all the collected data, examples that made direct or indirect references to or coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic were selected for further analysis.

In all, promotional materials and activities from nine companies in 14 countries used various messaging tactics to market breastmilk substitutes. The messages reached millions of mothers and families.

“These tactics show a clear disregard for the health of mothers and children,” Tharaney said. “Companies used strategies such as donations to governments at a time when they are already vulnerable.

“It’s alarming that the companies – fully aware of how important breastfeeding is to the health of mother and child – would promote their products during a public health emergency, precisely when infants need the best nourishment and protection available – breastfeeding.”

The authors propose using the monitoring findings to inform World Health Assembly (WHA) actions, which at its meeting in May will mark the 40th anniversary of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk substitutes. Further, the findings should be used for targeted enforcement and to address misinformation about breastfeeding in the context of COVID-19. Over the longer term, the authors said that more needs to be done to hold social media platforms accountable, raise public awareness on the Code, engage health workers and mobilize community monitoring.

Case studies show how medical colleges in India can improve the quality of MIYCN service delivery

Experiences in nine medical colleges in India have shed light on how the institutions can play a critical role in strengthening maternal, infant, and young child nutrition (MIYCN). The experiences have been summarized in a series of case studies developed by Alive & Thrive.

India medical college case studies
Alive & Thrive worked with multiple stakeholders to integrate MIYCN into the curricula of nine medical colleges. The initiative points to an effective way of filling knowledge gaps among health workers who ultimately serve millions in the nation’s health system.

“In India, medical colleges are strategically placed in the health care delivery system, making them an excellent platform to apply the latest scientific evidence to improve the quality of care,” explained Dr. Sebanti Ghosh, the director of Alive & Thrive’s program in India. “With the right support, these colleges and their attached hospitals can play a critical role in strengthening MIYCN.”

Improving MIYCN practices via medical colleges could potentially reach a significant number of doctors. About 50,000 students graduate every year from Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery programs at 542 government colleges across the country recognized by the Medical Council of India. The schools enroll about 65,000 students annually and place doctors throughout the country.

After a 2017 baseline assessment indicated significant gaps in MIYCN knowledge, A&T forged partnerships with nine government medical colleges in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states to address the gaps. The goal of the partnerships was to build the capacity of future generations of medical practitioners in evidence-based MIYCN practices  by strengthening the undergraduate medical curriculum and improving the quality of MIYCN service delivery at critical contact points in the attached hospitals and district health facilities.

With Alive & Thrive support, stakeholders developed a roadmap and an implementation plan to address the identified knowledge gaps. Expert committees were formed at the state and national level comprised of the college principals/deans, senior national experts, faculty members from the departments of Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology (OBGY), Community Medicine (CFM), and Preventive and Social Medicine (PSM), partner medical colleges, and senior government officials from the Directorate of Medical Education (DGME) and State National Health Mission under the Health Department.

India medical colleges case studies cover

The committees had the ability to revise the undergraduate curriculum and update service delivery protocols at hospitals. A competency-based national curriculum was subsequently developed, which medical colleges can opt to use.

Within the hospitals attached to each college, a coach worked with medical teams to show them how to apply Point of Care Quality Improvement (POCQI) to address MIYCN service delivery gaps (like delayed initiation of breastfeeding). They looked at the processes underlying an identified problem and developed and implemented ways to address it and test and monitor the impact on practices.

“The training and support by Alive & Thrive on MIYCN and quality improvement have enabled the team to ensure early initiation of breastfeeding, even in C-section delivery,” said Dr. Jyoti Bala, Head of Department, Obstetrics and Gynecology, at the Anugraha Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital in Gaya, Bihar State. “My team feels proud being a pioneer practicing this in our medical college hospital. Our efforts are giving results, which are being appreciated and replicated in other hospitals.”

The case studies demonstrate the application of the POCQI approach and show some of the specific steps that the nutrition and medical community can take to improve key indicators for MIYCN.

Read the case studies.

COVID-19’s impacts seen in preliminary results of studies in Bangladesh and India

Bangladesh MIYCN service delivery
A clinic in Bangladesh. Research on the impacts of COVID-19 showed significant impacts on MIYCN service delivery.

Social distancing measures implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19 had widespread impacts on virtually all aspects of life – the delivery of health services was not excepted. Alive & Thrive supported research in India and Bangladesh to evaluate the impacts of measures implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Read our updated summary of implementation research, including the Bangladesh and India studies.

In India, a recently completed study including a sample of more than 500 women with children under the age of two provided the opportunity to conduct a follow-up phone survey to assess effects of the pandemic on health services and food security. COVID-19 affected the provision and use of health services despite adaptive efforts, and significantly and negatively impacted household food security. The latter, in turn, had implications for child feeding practices and coping strategies.

A&T recommended:

  • Provision of protective equipment
  • Measures that allow for social distancing and appropriate hygiene during service provision
  • Measures to address diminished demand for services and the reality of providers’ role in providing essential services while also responding to emergencies
  • Targeted social protection strategies and safety nets to improve household food security during and after COVID-19

In Bangladesh, an urban nutrition baseline survey, completed in March 2020 immediately before the COVID-19 lockdown, allowed a unique opportunity to contact the recently surveyed sample via phone to conduct a follow up survey and complete a longitudinal analysis of pre- and post-COVID provision and utilization of services and food insecurity, including adaptations and possible solutions to best respond to COVID-19 and other emergencies.

Study findings show that the provision of routine antenatal care services had a modest reduction during the lockdown, anthropometric measurements reduced substantially for pregnant women and for children. Child immunizations fell and counselling on child feeding fell, as well. By September 2020, most services resumed, though provision was still markedly below pre-pandemic levels. Despite key adaptations for service provision that included using phones for counselling and coordinating to arrange immunization visits, drop-offs in service utilization during the lockdown were also large and remained low through September. Household food insecurity increased substantially during COVID-19.

Further investments are needed to improve training and support for providers, ensure availability of personal protective equipment, and continue to increase  availability and demand for routine maternal and child health services. Findings from both studies will be disseminated in early 2021 and through peer-reviewed manuscripts, currently in progress.

Laos integrates Center of Excellence for Breastfeeding criteria in its national health monitoring system

Laos has integrated the Center of Excellence for Breastfeeding (COE) criteria into the country’s national hospital accreditation quality standards and the national reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health (2021-2025) strategy, laying the  foundation for Laotian hospitals to join the COE initiative. The decision came after the COE initiative was successfully piloted in Viet Nam, where 21 hospitals have been certified under the program over the past two years.

Laos integrate COE
The Centers of Excellence for Breastfeeding initiative is helping hospitals in Southeast Asia implement improvements that increase rates of early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding, among other benefits.

Read more about the Alive & Thrive COE initiative in Southeast Asia.

COE, a novel implementation model to scale up the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,” incorporates WHO’s updated global guidance on early essential newborn care to promote breastfeeding-enabling hospital environments. For the first time, indicators measuring performance to consistently implement breastfeeding counseling, prolonged skin-to-skin contact, early initiation of breastfeeding, rooming-in, and adherence to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes are included in Laos’s national health monitoring system as the COE monitoring system is integrated.

COE assessment checklists, including for birth observations, maternal exit interviews, and medical record reviews, will now be incorporated into the national Integrated Quality Assessment mechanism. Then, a joint team composed of representatives from the Strategy Secretariat, Department of Healthcare & Rehabilitation, and local health authorities will evaluate whether Laotian hospitals fulfill COE criteria.

New study reveals aggressive marketing techniques by breastmilk substitute companies in China

BMS promotion in China is raising alarms
The aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes in China, which is detrimental to the health of both mother and child, is alarming health experts.

Manufacturers of breastmilk substitutes are aggressively marketing the products across China, according to new research supported by Alive & Thrive, the China Development Research Foundation, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology.

The companies are advising mothers to use infant formula and providing free samples in efforts that target women from varied socioeconomic groups and places of residence during pregnancy, childbirth, the postnatal period, and beyond. The efforts clearly violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (BMS Code) and undermine breastfeeding.

The analysis underscores the urgent need for stronger regulation and enforcement of the Code to restrict the promotion of BMS in China, especially within health facilities and online, to better protect women and children from the harmful impact of BMS marketing.

Viet Nam adopts mandatory regulations on workplace lactation support

Viet Nam has adopted Decree 145, supporting working mothers to continue breastfeeding. Endorsed by the Prime Minister, the decree mandates 60-minute paid breastfeeding breaks and lactation rooms in companies with over 1,000 female employees.

Viet Nam workplace lactation support
Millions of working women in Viet Nam stand to benefit from a new decree supporting working mothers to continue breastfeeding.

Nearly 40 percent of female workers in Viet Nam’s formal sector are covered by the decree; companies with fewer employees are being encouraged to implement the same practices. Together with a six-month paid maternity leave regulation issued in 2013, Decree 145 demonstrates Viet Nam’s determination to promote an enabling environment for breastfeeding and to reach its target rate for continued breastfeeding for two-year-old’s – 30% by 2030.

Alive & Thrive applied its organizational advocacy strategy to support the passage of Decree 145, partnering with Members of Parliament, the Ministry of Health, the Office of Government, and international organizations including UN Women, UNICEF, the Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance, GIZ, and CARE to build support for mothers’ breastfeeding rights. A&T also worked with the General Confederation of Labor, surveying female workers and business representatives to  provide a cost-benefit analysis of workplace lactation to the policy-drafting committee in a policy whitepaper.

An A&T-supported social media campaign brought more than 10,000 women to sign a petition in favor of workplace lactation. In 2021, as the decree was approved, A&T was asked to develop technical guidance by the Ministry of Health, and to develop an online monitoring system for workplace lactation implementation by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the General Confederation of Labor. A&T’s practical guidance to implement workplace lactation support programs can be found here.

Global IYCF e-learning course reaching health workers around the world

IYCF e-learning users mapMore than 2,000 health workers around the world have enrolled in Alive & Thrive’s e-learning course, “Investing in Child Nutrition,” with enrollments of five or more from people in more than 100 countries. The overwhelming majority of those enrolling came from low- and middle-income countries. Compared to 2019 when it was launched, overall enrollments increased by 53% in 2020, from 998 to 1,531 in English; French enrollment reached 211.

Though users report a high degree of satisfaction (E-learning course provides global access to valuable nutrition information), only 73 have fully completed the course. A&T is surveying users to gain further insight into the issue, which could be due to the course’s length (completing it requires several hours), its difficulty, and/or internet accessibility.

In July, Alive & Thrive updated the course with new COVID-19 IYCF guidance issued by WHO. The course’s popularity has drawn interest from UNICEF, which has proposed incorporating the course into its Agora global learning platform.

Partners in other countries have also inquired about integrating aspects of the course into e-learning initiatives for health workers. This interest reflects the high quality of the course, which was developed in collaboration with UNICEF, a global network of IYCF experts, e-learning specialists, and established IYCF media content creators.

The free course is based on WHO’s IYCF training modules, adapting the face-to-face course content into an immersive, interactive e-learning format, and supplementing technical content with a wide range of multimedia material, including expert interviews, instructional videos, and digital animation. It also offers substantial content focusing on counselling skills.

2020: A Year in Publications

Alive & Thrive supports MIYCN research around the world and is committed to the principles of Open Data. In 2020, Alive & Thrive supported MIYCN research in China, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India and Southeast Asia. While the COVID-19 pandemic radically affected health and nutrition systems, Alive & Thrive-supported research led to articles in leading peer-reviewed journals related to COVID-19; breastfeeding and early essential newborn care; human milk banking; infant and young child feeding; maternal and child dietary adequacy; MIYCN program lessons; and trends in nutritional status.

COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers and practitioners must learn from mistakes made during the HIV pandemic, when breastfeeding was undermined through isolating infants from their mothers, and formula feeding resulted in more infant deaths than the disease, the authors of this article assert. To maximize infant health, COVID-19 policies should prioritize skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, and maternal proximity.
Guidance documents from 33 countries on newborn care for infants whose mothers are diagnosed with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 were considerably inconsistent with WHO recommendations, this review revealed. None of the guidance documents fully aligned with WHO guidance, while many undervalued the importance of maternal proximity and breastfeeding to infant health.

Breastfeeding and EENC

Early breastfeeding practices influenced exclusive breastfeeding (EBF), but interventions aimed only at the initiation and early days of breastfeeding will be inadequate to promote EBF, according to an analysis of data from three impact evaluations of large-scale social and behavior change communication interventions in Bangladesh, Viet Nam, and Ethiopia. Analysis showed social and behavior change interventions should simultaneously target early initiation of breastfeeding, non-prelacteal feeding, and EBF to support optimal breastfeeding practices.
Although breastfeeding is the norm, rates of early initiation of breastfeeding (EIBF) and exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) are low in China, according to an examination of the association between breastfeeding practices and associated factors in the country. The prevalence of EIBF and EBF is associated with factors at the individual, family, health facility, and environmental levels, including health systems, families, maternity protection, the built environment, breastfeeding knowledge, support from partners, the prevalence of cesarean deliveries, and the marketing of breastmilk substitutes; however, few previous large-scale studies have been conducted in China to examine the determinants of breastfeeding practices.
This article documents the protocol for a study that will review the content, implementation, and potential impact of policies relating to maternity protection and the Code in Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam. The study results are expected to be published in January
 2021 and will increase understanding of the efficacy of policy interventions to improve breastfeeding in order to advocate for further policy adoption and enforcement in study countries and globally.
In the Philippines, workers in the informal economy are not guaranteed paid maternity leave. A non‐contributory maternity cash transfer to informal sector workers could improve social equity, economic productivity, public health, and nutrition through supporting breastfeeding. Using a costing framework developed in Mexico, this study estimates the program’s annual costs would range from a minimum scenario of USD42 million (14‐week maternity cash transfer) to a more ideal scenario of USD309 million (26‐week maternity cash transfer). The latter is financially feasible, making up less than 0.1% of the country’s GDP and far lower than the cost of not breastfeeding, making up 0.7% of GDP.
Interviews with Vietnamese health workers and hospital staff generated insights into staff experiences with the implementation of early essential newborn care (EENC) guidelines after participating in training and coaching initiatives. The interviews revealed common themes, including improved health staff and mother satisfaction and the importance of facilitators to implementation, as well as clarified barriers to successful implementation such as staff shortages and skepticism. The findings contribute to literature that can inform the development of competencies to form and sustain recommended EENC practices among health staff.

Human Milk Banking

Infant feeding guidelines emphasize that breast milk is the best nutrition for infants. Some infants do not have access to their biological mother’s milk for a range of reasons; when a mother’s own milk is unavailable for preterm or low birthweight infants, WHO and UNICEF recommend pasteurized human milk from a human milk bank as the first alternative to feed low birthweight and preterm infants. This article, created with guidelines, expert advice, and patient stories, explains human milk banks in-depth, exploring the rationale for their use, contraindications, directions for use, and how donor milk can support breastfeeding.
Viet Nam established the country’s first human milk bank (HMB) as part of its comprehensive strategy to ensure all infants receive human milk and to improve newborn care. This article explores the HMB’s development, establishment, and challenges, providing insights that are adaptable and applicable to other settings seeking to implement new HMB systems that will support breastfeeding practices and reduce infant deaths.

Maternal Resources & Gender

Maternal resources for care, including maternal education, knowledge, height, nourishment, mental well-being, decision-making autonomy, employment, support in chores, and perceived instrumental support, are associated with care behaviors, such as IYCF, hygiene, health-seeking, and family care behaviors, according to this study. However, associations differed by type of resource and care behavior, with some negative associations. Results suggest that improving resources for care available to mothers, including education, knowledge, nutritional status, mental well-being, autonomy, and social support, would benefit the provision of care for children.
Supportive social and political environments to empower women would advance human rights and promote health and well-being, this study’s results suggested. Using the Gender Gap Index (GGI) from the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report (2006–2017), researchers assessed gender equity trends in China, Nepal and Nicaragua. Nepal and Nicaragua both had dramatic increases in GGI (improvement in equity), strongly influenced by political empowerment – which in turn likely impacted access to education and employment opportunities. But in China, they found a significant decline in GGI, largely resulting from decreased gender equity in educational attainment, economic participation and health/survival sub-indices.

Maternal and Child Dietary Adequacy

Interpersonal counseling, community mobilization and mass media campaigns led to higher household household food expenditures that improve diets, according to this analysis comparing Alive & Thrive Phase 1 intensive intervention areas to non-intensive areas in Bangladesh. Household food expenditures (including expenditures on eggs and flesh foods) and women’s employment and control of income increased more in intensive intervention
areas compared to non-intensive, while changes in nonfood expenditures did not differ. Higher expenditures on food groups were reflected in higher consumption by women and children. Recipients in the intensive intervention mobilized additional resources to improve diets, reflected in increased expenditures and consumption of promoted foods.
Nutritious diets in Uttar Pradesh are unaffordable for 75% of households, according to this study that examined food prices and consumption patterns. The study further indicated that income and dietary preferences, rather than food availability, were the key barriers to households obtaining nutritious diets. Practical, habitual, diet-related behavior change communication to middle- and high-income households and additional social protection for poorer households could better enable individuals to access more nutritious diets, the authors concluded.
Adequacy of energy, and micronutrient intakes among self-declared lacto-vegetarian and non-vegetarian pregnant women in Uttar Pradesh are inadequate, and macronutrient intakes are imbalanced regardless of dietary preferences, according to this study. Poor diets across the board necessitate a range of policies and interventions to address nutrient intake for women in this population.

MIYCN Program Lessons

Multiple activities, such as mass media campaigns, policy and advocacy activities, and social mobilization activities were integral to the Alive & Thrive’s Phase 1 success but also made the program difficult to sustain, this study concludes. The study evaluated the sustainability of activities introduced during A&T implementation (2009–2014) in Bangladesh and Viet Nam. While quantitative data show a persisting modest intervention effect in areas including health worker knowledge, other elements such as training, monitoring, and evaluation were eliminated. The authors conclude that future complex programs must plan institutionalization and complementary roles for stakeholders in advance to improve sustainability.
Large-scale behavior change interventions, delivered through a variety of platforms – government health systems, community-based platforms, and mass media – had substantial impacts in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Viet Nam. A body of evidence, based on A&T evaluations in these countries, now informs approaches to shaping nutrition behaviors around the world. The authors concluded that carefully done collaborative program evaluations that use randomized controlled trials together with other methods can support effective learning about solutions, even those that operate at scale.
Exposure to interventions matters for impact, but the combination of behavior change interventions and number of interpersonal counseling contacts required to support behavior change in infant and young child feeding are context-specific, according to this analysis of Alive & Thrive Phase 1 data in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Viet Nam.
Opinion Leader Research (OLR) should be used to both inform and generate support for MIYCN policymaking processes, according to this research in five Southeast Asian countries. OLR was used to gather information on barriers and solutions to guide strategic engagement for MIYCN policymaking, helping to identify influential leaders and opportunities in Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, and Thailand.
Although Southeast Asian NNS have similarities in structure and content, some interventions and indicators vary by country and do not consistently align with regional and international recommendations, according to this study of national nutrition strategies and action plans (NNS) focusing on maternal, infant, and young child nutrition in the region. The study examined context, objectives, interventions, indicators, strategies, and coordination mechanisms. The authors recommend establishing a database that regularly updates information on NNS components to facilitate cross-checking, comparison, and knowledge-sharing.

Trends in Nutrition Status

Underweight persists, while overweight and obesity are rising among adult women, especially wealthier and capital city residents, an analysis of Demographic and Health Surveys between 1993 and 2017 from 35 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa revealed. The study concluded that anemia remains high among all women, revealing a necessity for multifaceted responses to ensure equity among the region’s women.
The key drivers of child undernutrition in Myanmar, where the prevalence of child stunting is 28% and wasting is 7%, are multifaceted and start in utero, this study found. To reduce child undernutrition and accelerate the country’s human and economic development, investment in multi-sectoral interventions with a focus on improving maternal nutrition is essential.
Thank you for being a part of Alive & Thrive’s mission to improve maternal, child, and infant nutrition in 2020! Here’s to more adaptation and innovation in 2021.

Stronger With Breastmilk Only initiative providing resources, support to reach exclusive breastfeeding goal

More than 200 stakeholders from across West Africa learned how the Stronger With Breastmilk Only initiative is supporting health officials to increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding during webinars in French and English in early December.

The webinar presented the regional initiative, including its objectives, tools and resources, and support for national programs. During a question and answer session of the webinar, participants sought more background on the key messages, the initiative’s design, monitoring and evaluation and sustainability. The discussion is summarized here and includes links to a variety of resources and further information.

The webinar also highlighted the initiative’s new WhatsApp group and invited stakeholders to join.

Watch the full webinar here.

The slide deck is available here.

Speakers included:

  • Anne-Sophie Le Dain, Regional Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF West & Central Africa
  • Nathalie Likhite, Regional SBC Advisor, Alive & Thrive, West Africa
  • Simeon Nanema, Regional Nutrition Advisor, UNICEF West & Central Africa
  • Emilie Buttarelli, C4D Specialist, UNICEF West & Central Africa
  • Emily Dierdre Tarisayi Mbanga, Technical Officer, Nutrition & Food Safety in Emergencies, WHO Africa
  • Manisha Tharaney, Program Director, Alive & Thrive, West Africa
  • Juan Andres Gil, C4D Specialist, UNICEF West & Central Africa
  • Adelheid Onyango, Nutrition and Health Expert, WHO Africa