Nutrition International launches implementation research studies in India to strengthen nutrition outcomes for mothers, infants and young children
The learnings from this research will address crucial gaps in program knowledge and service delivery to inform practical and implementable solutions for improved maternal, infant and young child nutrition in India.
Posted on May 17, 2023
NEW DELHI, India: Nutrition International launched two implementation research studies focused on improving adherence to iron, folic acid (IFA) and calcium supplementation among pregnant and lactating women and elevating quality nutrition services during the first 1,000 days. The studies, to be completed by 2024, are being led in select districts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat with support from state governments and implementation partners.
“Nutrition is critical to public health interventions. Implementation research must be part and parcel of program implementation in the health space as it brings to the fore reasons for success and highlights areas for improvement,” said Dr. Sila Deb, Advisor, Child Health, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India and the chief guest at the launch event on April 20th.
While India has a robust policy framework regarding maternal and young child nutrition, several challenges and bottlenecks hinder the on-the-ground implementation of these programs. Despite IFA and calcium supplementation being among the oldest supplementation programs in the country, both their compliance and adherence among pregnant and lactating women remain suboptimal. Key challenges to the program include a lack of clarity on low coverage of IFA and calcium during the postpartum phase, ineffective management of moderate and severe anaemia, inadequate strategic plans to supplement preconception women, frequent stock-outs, and the absence of a centralized system to accurately track consumption. In the context of infant and young child nutrition, the first 1,000 days represents a critical window for physical and neurological development – strongly influenced by nutrition – which impacts a child’s health trajectory for life. However, many nutrition interventions across the first 1,000 days are not being practiced as intended or consistently implemented. One significant gap exists in the provision of nutrition counselling by healthcare providers to beneficiaries.
“Implementation research must be part and parcel of program implementation in the health space as it brings to the fore reasons for success and highlights areas for improvement.
— Dr. Sila Deb, Advisor, Child Health, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
This research intentionally focuses on improving nutrition services with an emphasis on delivering high-quality interpersonal nutrition counselling. The implementation research on maternal nutrition is being implemented in Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh and Vadodara district of Gujarat, while the study on infant and young child nutrition is being undertaken in four selected districts: Mathura and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh and Kheda and Tapi in Gujarat.
“These two studies include formative research, a baseline and an endline assessment, and a process evaluation to create an improved model of implementation that will be scaled up in the two states through a collaborative approach,” elaborated Mini Varghese, Country Director for India, Nutrition International.
To commemorate the national launch of the two implementation research studies, Nutrition International convened a diverse group of over 50 participants, including government representatives, academia and development partners, in New Delhi. The launch event provided an opportunity for enriching and multi-dimensional discussions on the importance of implementation research in the public health sphere and the key factors that contribute to its success. The team also presented a comprehensive overview of the approach, implementation model and progress achieved in the ongoing studies.
To learn more about the studies, visit: