Adolescent nutrition

The world is home to 1.2 billion adolescents, the largest cohort of this demographic in history.

Our adolescent health and nutrition programs, active in eight countries across Africa and Asia, aim to improve the health and wellbeing of adolescents by expanding and strengthening anaemia prevention efforts with weekly iron and folic acid supplementation (WIFAS).

Through gender-responsive health and nutrition education delivered through school curriculums, peer youth groups and community-based and digital platforms, we empower adolescents to understand their own growth, development and potential to benefit from improved nutrition.  With Nutrition International’s support, over 2.9 million adolescent girls received the full scheme of WIFA supplements in 2022, a figure nearly three times greater than the previous year’s reach, signaling a substantial increase in school attendance as countries continue their recovery from COVID-19 related closures.

As a key partner to the African Union during the Year of Nutrition, we provided technical and financial support to the development of the East Central and Southern Africa Health Community (ECSA-HC) Adolescent and Nutrition Advocacy and Communications Strategy that aims to reduce anaemia, increase programming and improve adolescent nutrition among its member states. Furthering our efforts, we launched She’ll Grow Into It, an advocacy campaign that calls for the prioritization of adolescent nutrition and inclusion of adolescent voices among African Union member states.

At the global, regional and national levels, we have been collaborating with partners to highlight the data gaps for decision makers to allow them to better understand the current health and nutrition needs of adolescents. In our effort to shape the market for the availability of WIFAS, we submitted the application of WIFAS in the formulation of 60mg of elemental iron and 2.8mg folic acid for consideration by the 24th Meeting of the WHO Expert Committee on Selection and Use of Essential Medicines in April 2023.

Our programs will continue to use nutrition as an entry point to address gender equality issues — including early marriage, adolescent pregnancy, menstrual health barriers and harmful social norms — that hold girls back from access to school and participating fully in communities.

Looking ahead

Collaborating with governments to prioritize adolescents in health and nutrition agendas.

Nutrition International remains committed to partnering with governments around the world to design, implement and strengthen effective, gender-responsive adolescent nutrition programs to ensure adolescents are prioritized in health and nutrition agendas. By expanding and strengthening our WIFAS programming, we will direct our anaemia reduction efforts towards mitigating the inequities faced by adolescent girls in relation to anaemia. Nutrition education will be tailored to meet adolescents’ needs and delivered through various platforms, channels and partnerships, including schools, communities, youth groups and digital mediums. Additionally, we will provide technical assistance on monitoring and reporting on the delivery of nutrition education as part of our global nutrition education indicator work. In July 2023, the WHO Expert Medicine’s Committee accepted Nutrition International’s submission to include the new formulation of WIFAS in the Model List of Essential Medicines (EML). We will work at the global level to improve WIFAS availability, while also serving as a trusted partner to countries to facilitate a smooth transition and address any supply chain issues.