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nepal-newborn-vas-storyAt first glance, this photo portrays a simple scene: a mother in Nepal giving something to her day-old child.

But what she’s doing may offer a new way to save the lives of newborns around the world: she’s giving her child a dose of vitamin A.

More than a third of children who die each year are newborns in their first month of life. Many die within the first days of life because their weak immune systems cannot fight off infections.

Vitamin A has only recently been examined as a method of reducing early infant mortality. The results of clinical research in Indonesia, India and Bangladesh suggested that giving newborns a single lower dose of vitamin A (50,000 IU) within the first two days of life may reduce infant mortality by 20 per cent.

Although further research is still needed and especially in Africa, newborn vitamin A supplementation programs could be an effective solution in the fight against infant mortality in South Asian settings.

MI, in partnership with UNICEF, A2Z and USAID, is supporting two countries, Bangladesh and Nepal, that want to explore in more depth how this intervention could be implemented in practice if the decision is made to scale-up.