Alive & Thrive: Expanding community interventions to improve nutrition in Bangladesh

The levels of stunting, underweight, wasting, and childhood anemia are very high in Bangladesh, as are levels of maternal chronic energy deficiency and maternal and child anemia. A combination of poor maternal nutrition and postnatal factors cause child undernutrition, which in turn can have far-reaching consequences for national and global development, as well as individual health. Studies in Bangladesh show that infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices, a critical determinant of child nutrition, are poor. Interventions to address them at a large scale are urgently needed, including behavior-change counseling for early and exclusive breastfeeding, age-appropriate complementary feeding and micronutrient supplementation, provision of micronutrient supplements or fortified complementary foods, hygiene interventions, and nutritional management of severe-acute undernutrition.

Alive & Thrive (A&T) seeks to develop scaled-up models for preventing child undernutrition by improving IYCF practices. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, A&T’s interventions focus on achieving behavior change through existing service-delivery platforms, especially the health worker network of BRAC, the largest nongovernmental organization in Bangladesh. This brief focuses on A&T’s use of BRAC’s Essential Health Care (EHC) program in 2009–2011 as its operational platform. During this time, 9,000 managers, mid-level staff, workers, and volunteers were trained in interpersonal counseling, and an IYCF-oriented social mobilization strategy reached 15 million people.

This brief is one of series on scaling up in agriculture, rural development, and nutrition.

Haque, Raisul
Afsana, Kaosar
Sanghvi, Tina
Siraj, Saiqa
Menon, Purnima
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International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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