Despite well-established evidence on the efficacy of micronutrient powders (MNP) for reducing anemia in young children, effective implementation experiences are not widely documented. USAID/SPRING has held an ongoing consultation to: (1) identify and summarize field experiences and lessons learned in MNP programming, (2) define essential logistic components needed to ensure national ownership, context specificity, and sustainability; and (3) prioritize an MNP implementation research agenda.
Twenty country and global MNP experts convened into three working groups: (1) planning, coordination and supply considerations, (2) delivery platforms and social and behavior change communication for optimal use and adherence; and (3) program improvement through supervision, monitoring and evaluation. Questionnaires, key informant interviews and literature reviews formed the basis of the data collection to distill programming experiences. A two-day meeting in October 2015 provided groups an opportunity to deliberate findings.
Factors for success cited include stakeholder sensitization, adequate technical and financial resources, dynamic communication plans extending the full project lifecycle, high frequency and quality of contacts through community-based platforms, the alignment of capacities for monitoring and staff, and streamlined and integrated systems. Supply sourcing, delivery platforms, local technical capacity and communication approaches are highly dependent on context. Implementation research needs identified include defining a minimum communication package for MNPs, understanding the interaction between MNP and IYCF programming, and training for effective supervision despite high turnover.
MNPs are an apparently simple, well-accepted, and efficacious intervention to reduce anemia in 6-23 month old children; however, operationalizing and delivering MNPs is complex and context-specific.