New maternal nutrition strategy holds promise for Madagascar

March 2009

When mothers are malnourished, their babies have a higher chance of suffering from malnutrition. It’s a vicious cycle that nutrition advocates have been trying to combat in Madagascar. Despite national efforts to improve nutrition for mothers and children, malnutrition remains a significant problem that gets passed down through generations. 

Now, a promising national strategy that establishes priorities and key actions toward improving nutrition for mothers may help break the cycle of malnutrition. Many government officials and nutrition partners believe that the first-of-its kind strategy will provide the concrete guidance they need to make a difference together—something that had been lacking in their battle to improve nutritional status for mothers and children. 

The IYCN Project has taken the lead on collaborating with the Ministry of Health and other groups to develop the strategy and link it to the government’s broader nutrition plans. Together with a wide range of partners, IYCN is breaking new ground. Although many countries have programs to address maternal nutrition problems, none have gone as far as to create a national plan for action.

When the IYCN team coordinated partner workshops to get input on the strategy, nutrition leaders were excited about the potential for it to impact the lives of mothers and children.

“The new Maternal Nutrition Strategy gives us the missing piece in the plan to fight malnutrition,” said Benjamin Andriamitantsoa of the US Agency for International Development’s Madagascar Mission during a workshop in December 2008. “It will help us break the cycle of malnutrition and address nutrition problems for women well before a child is conceived.”

The Ministry of Health and the National Office of Nutrition plan to adopt the strategy and disseminate it as part of their national nutrition standards in April 2009. Check the IYCN website for updates.

Learn more about IYCN efforts in Madagascar.