Assessment of public health impact of Sprinkles in Bangladesh
Micronutrient Sprinkles are powdered vitamin and mineral supplements used for home fortification of food. Sprinkles have been used in various settings and are a promising anemia reduction strategy, particularly in infants and young children who may be unwilling or unable to consume tablets or syrups regularly and who do not receive iron-fortified foods or animal source foods rich in bioavailable iron. The fundamental requirements for any successful Sprinkles program are essentially the same: An effective delivery channel must be capable of ensuring that intended beneficiaries have access to Sprinkles; and appropriate use of Sprinkles must be maximized through effective communication strategies. However, there is as yet little research on market-based approaches to ensure effective delivery and appropriate use of Sprinkles.
Funded by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the objective of IFPRI’s project is to assess the public health impact of using Sprinkles within an existing network of community-based health workers who are a part of BRAC’s. Essential Health Care program in Bangladesh, and will sell the Sprinkles in communities and provide information on their use. The project will investigate the feasibility and operational aspects of using Sprinkles, testing the primary hypothesis that a door-to-door market-based approach to distributing Sprinkles will reduce anemia among infants and young children and improve infant and young child feeding practices in Bangladesh, when compared to no micronutrient intervention, or when compared to behavior change communication promoting local foods.
There are multiple benefits anticipated from the study findings. Firstly, this study will provide the first-ever evidence on the impact of a market-based strategy to improve diet quality through micronutrient Sprinkles in a South Asian context. In the political economy of infant and young child feeding in South Asia, generating more evidence on the potential of micronutrient powders and market-based strategies can help inform the policy dialogue around the use of home fortification. Secondly, the study will generate a solid understanding of the factors that can “make or break” a market-based approach to improving diet quality. This second benefit will be achieved through the planned thoughtful and rigorous process evaluation carried out by IFPRI.