The new initiative, which launches ahead of the “Nutrition for Growth” summit in London on 8 June, aims to address the nutritional needs of women throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. The goal is to reduce the number of low birth weight babies and stunted children, who as a result, grow up blighted by health problems and experience a detrimental impact on their learning and economic potential.
“When a mother consumes a nutritious and balanced diet before and after giving birth, her baby thrives,” said WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin. “Providing women, particularly adolescent girls, with access to nutritious food cements the next generation’s opportunity for a healthy and productive future .”
The partnership between WFP and UNFPA supports the “1000 Days” initiative, which focuses on improving nutrition in the first 1000 days between the start of woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday. With their deep-field presence, WFP and UNFPA are uniquely positioned to reach women when they visit clinics for advice on reproductive health and offer access to the nutritional foods that are so important during this critical period.
“As the global community enters a final push to achieve the MDGs, Maternal Health remains the goal that lags furthest behind,” said UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin. “Maternal nutrition can play an essential role to improve pregnancy outcomes for both the mother and her newborn child. Evidence suggests that programmes designed to improve access to healthy foods and support positive eating behaviour amongst young women can decrease maternal and child mortality, and also provide adolescents energy and strength to stay in school and better prepare them to enter the workforce.”
Under the partnership, WFP and UNFPA are planning to roll out pilot programmes in Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and Zambia, where they will focus on improving nutrition among women prior to, during and after pregnancy, continuing until the child reaches 6 months of age. At the same time, the new programme will explore ways of providing more generalised nutritional support for adolescent girls in order to ensure that they have a good nutritional status before they become pregnant. Good nutrition is essential to empower adolescent girls, allowing them to make healthy reproductive choices, stay in education and avoid early marriage.
Women taking part in the pilot programmes will be provided with nutritional food supplements, including vital micronutrients such as iron, folic acid, and calcium, as appropriate.
For more information please contact (email address: email@example.com):
Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 2321, Mob. +39 346 7600 521
Gregory Barrow, WFP/London, Tel. +44 20 72409001, Mob. +44 7968 008474
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 5566909, Mob. +1 646 8241112
Rene McGuffin, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1 202 4223383
Mandy Kibel, UNFPA/New York, Tel. +1 212 297 5293, firstname.lastname@example.org
Omar Gharzeddine, UNFPA/New York, Tel. +1 212 297 5028, email@example.com