2021 was an unprecedented year. Despite the ongoing challenges of being in a pandemic, we were able to continue our work to improve the health and nutrition for those we exist to serve in close partnership with governments and partners around the world. We wanted to share a few highlights from stories we’ve captured over the past year. A deep thank you to everyone who has been a part of achieving these realities and so many more.

We look forward to continuing to work together in the fight against malnutrition with a renewed vigour in 2022.

 

A health care working wearing scrubs and a mask holds up a bottle of vitamin A tablets

Did you know that vitamin A saves lives? For 30 years, Nutrition International has provided more than 10 billion capsules of vitamin A for children under five. We work in partnership with governments to deliver this low-cost, high-impact intervention that prevents blindness, strengthens immune systems and has helped hundreds of millions of children around the world grow up stronger and healthier. Leveraging our expertise, we lauched an emergency catch-up campaign in 2021 to combat the disruption in coverage caused by the pandemic and ensure children under five receive the nutrition they need to realize their potential.

Read the story: Why is a vitamin A catch-up campaign needed now?  

 

Students in vests and masks hand over supplements to a person in a mask on a motorbike

COVID-19 school closures affected more than in-person learning. Around the world, adolescent girls lost access to weekly iron and folic acid (IFA) supplementation to help prevent anaemia. Teachers in Indonesia took it upon themselves to find a solution. Although students were learning from home, they still needed to come by the school to hand in assignment. When students came to drop off their homework, the teachers created a “drive-through” system so adolescents could also pick up a month’s supply of IFA supplementation.

Read the story: When COVID-19 forced schools to close these teachers got creative

 

Woman raises both arms into the air confidently

Anaemia prevention for adolescent girls was jeopardized across the world when schools closed due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Maureen Wangari, a farmer in Nakuru County, Kenya, stepped forward to turn these obstacles into opportunities. The community health volunteer participated in a training from Nutrition International through the county government of Nakuru. She was one of almost 300 voluneers trained on adolescent nutrition and anaemia prevention in the COVID-19 context. While observing social distancing, Wangari started going door-to-door spreading awareness about good nutrition to adolescent girls in her community and mobilizing them to access IFA supplements from the nearby health facility, acting as role model for her community and her daughters.

Read the story: Community health volunteer goes door-to-door in support of adolescent girls’ nutrition

 

Mother wearing a mask holds her baby

Mother-to-mother support groups give moms the opportunity to engage meaningfully with their peers and discuss topics relevant to their own health and the health of their babies. In the Philippines, the groups adhered to COVID-19 protocols to continue to meet, providing new moms with helpful guidance on exclusive breastfeeding, IFA supplementation to prevent anaemia, and infant and young child feeding practices. The women choose the topics they want to discuss and the content is guided by evidence-informed resources and activities.

Read the story: Mothers tap into the power of peer support

 

Father sits on a chair at a health clinic carrying his son on his front and holding his daughter behind him.

Men must be part of the conversations around gender equity. In Tanzania, we saw gender norms shift as an awareness campaign targeted fathers to be active participants in getting their children vitamin A supplementation. “At first, it was very difficult for men to bring our children to health facilities, but the encouragement from village workers and our neighbourhood leaders really attracted us and today you see us here bringing children for care,” said Alphonce Maduhu, father of two kids under five.

Read the story: Fathers help increase vitamin A coverage in Tanzania

 

Woman in mask holds a health booklet and speaks to a group of women also in masks outside

Nutrition International supports front-line health workers by providing training and guidance, including how to adapt to the COVID-19 context. In Bangladesh, we worked with the Institute of Public Health Nutrition to promote physical distancing, good hand hygiene, and how to reduce wait times. Community healthcare provider Hafiza Khatoon said she works to see as many patients as possible while ensuring safety protocols. “I maintain social distancing while attending to my patients and spray disinfectants in the entire clinic after every counselling session. I don’t see anyone who does not wear a mask, which in turn encourages everyone to wear one.”

Read the story: Maternal health worker navigates COVID-19 protocols  

 

Vitamin A supplementation saves lives in areas where children are at risk of vitamin A deficiency. But COVID-19 jeopardized access to this high-impact, low-cost nutrition intervention. Nutrition International is leading vitamin A supplementation catch-up efforts for children in countries across Africa as part of Canada’s response to COVID-19. We are working hand-in-hand with governments to support them to deliver emergency vitamin A catch-up campaigns co-packaged with other essential child survival services. Watch to find out how we’re working to ensure no child misses another dose and has access to the services they need.

Watch the video: Not another missed dose 

 

Large-scale fortification of staple foods and condiments is a proven, sustainable and cost-effective solution to address some of the most common micronutrient deficiencies. In Pakistan, Nutrition International has supported provincial food authorities and private sector suppliers to make food fortification widespread. Amidst many markers of progress in 2021, a major milestone was reached in November 2021, when the Government of Sindh became the first legislature in Pakistan to pass a mandatory food fortification law. Whether fortifying wheat flour or edible oil, Nutrition International will continue to partner with the Government of Pakistan to better the nutrition status of families.

Read the story: Improving the health of Pakistani families through a common household staple: cooking oil

 

A mother wearing a mask to protect against COVID-19 holds her baby at a health clinic in Malawi

We haven’t yet seen the end of COVID–19 and its impacts, but thanks to our expertise and the ongoing support of our donors and partnerships we have helped millions of people improve their nutrition, their health and their resilience – not only to this crisis but the next. Read more about what we accomplished in 2021 in our annual report and we look forward to all we can accomplish by working together in 2022.

Read the report: Annual Report 2020-2021 | Mobilizing nutrition leadership during COVID-19