Alive & Thrive is pleased to announce an additional five-year, $41 million investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue its work strengthening maternal, infant, and young child nutrition (MIYCN) programming around the world.
The announcement comes on the eve of the 25th anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week, as the program’s additional funding will help support the global community in promoting optimal breastfeeding practices and policies.
This new investment from the foundation will expand the geographies in which Alive & Thrive works and deepen its engagement with diverse stakeholders to drive significant improvements in nutrition practices and outcomes.
Specifically, this award will allow Alive & Thrive to increase the coverage and quality of MIYCN policies and programs in Bangladesh and Burkina Faso, and sustain its regional capacity-building efforts with seven countries in the Southeast Asia region. Alive & Thrive will also extend this regional action model into West Africa.
Today, undernutrition continues to undermine development in countries across the globe; it is associated with 45% of child deaths, and 27% of maternal deaths are due to indirect causes, including nutrition-related factors. Improved breastfeeding alone could save more than 800,000 children’s lives a year; it is one of the best investments any country can make to improve child survival, boost cognitive development, and increase economic growth. Recent reports have also highlighted the economic advantages of breastfeeding: every $1 invested in breastfeeding generates $35 in economic returns.
“As a scientist, I am awed by the remarkable lifesaving benefits of breastfeeding,” said Susan Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“From nutrition to immunization, it is the gold standard for improving a child’s health and development. If we can make the practice universal, the results will be startling. That’s why we’re excited to continue our partnership with Alive & Thrive—and give millions of more children the best possible start in life.”
This Alive & Thrive grant will build on nine years of work, during which the program demonstrated that improvements in breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices can be achieved at a large scale within a relatively short period. Between 2009 – 2014, rates of exclusive breastfeeding increased in Alive & Thrive program areas in all three original countries; the rate tripled to 57% in Viet Nam and reached more than 80% in Bangladesh and Ethiopia. These rapid results demonstrated an opportunity to replicate Alive & Thrive’s model in other countries; in 2014, Alive & Thrive expanded its geographical reach to include Burkina Faso, India, and Nigeria.
“This investment will generate a wealth of knowledge and tools that can be adapted in settings around the world to improve nutrition practices at scale,” said Karin Lapping, Alive & Thrive Global Project Director.
“We look forward to sharing what we’ve learned, in the most accessible way possible, about what it takes to deliver widespread impact on nutrition.”
By 2022, Alive & Thrive aims to have developed the strategy and tools required for action, along with a robust set of country, regional, and global partners who are prepared to sustain and advance progress toward eliminating undernutrition.