Advancing maternal health project launched for women, babies.

ISLAMABAD -- The government and Nutrition International on Tuesday launched the Advancing Maternal Health through MMS Implementation Research (AMMI) project in Pakistan for improving health outcomes for women and their babies.

The project, funded by the Government of Canada through Nutrition International, will help to inform the scale-up of multiple micronutrient supplementation (MMS) for pregnant women as global evidence shows that, in low- and middle-income countries, MMS is more effective and cost-effective than iron and folic acid (IFA) supplementation in improving birth outcomes and equally prevents anaemia during pregnancy.

In 2020, the World Health Organization recommended that implementation research be conducted in low- and middle-income countries considering the transition from IFA supplementation to MMS. Implementation research is important to identify program bottlenecks and barriers that will impede successful scale-up and to test solutions. This is key to improving program effectiveness and maximizing the superior health and nutrition benefits of MMS.

'Increasing access to MMS will contribute to improving maternal nutrition, birth outcomes and reducing stunting, which are key objectives of Pakistan's Stunting Reduction and Pakistan Maternal Nutrition Strategy and part of the National Nutrition Program,' said Dr. Abdul Baseer Khan Achakzai, Director, Nutrition and Health Programs, Ministry of Health, Pakistan.

'This MMS implementation research project in Swabi district is an important step towards potentially providing access of MMS to pregnant women across Pakistan, and I'm looking forward to the outcomes,' he added.

A collaborative effort of the Nutrition Wing of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Health Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Nutrition International, the AMMI project is being implemented in the Swabi district.

During the one-year implementation period, all pregnant women who are accessing public antenatal care services in the district will receive MMS instead of IFA supplements as preventative maternal micronutrient supplementation - whether at a government health facility, or through a community lady health worker or midwife. Support is being provided to healthcare workers through training, supervision, program monitoring and job aids.

'The introduction of multiple micronutrient supplementation into antenatal care is an important step in preventing anaemia during pregnancy...

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