Each year, malnutrition kills more than 2.5 million children under five years old worldwide and impairs hundreds of thousands more. In particular, micronutrient deficiencies of vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine, and vitamin A are among the leading causes of mental and physical impairments in children.
Simple and highly effective products, known as micronutrient powders (MNPs), are available for just pennies a day to address these deficiencies. Despite their low cost, millions of children in need still do not have access to the product.
MNPs are available today through the public sector and NGOs, but the reach of these programs is limited. Partnerships between the public and private sector have the potential to dramatically increase the impact of these important interventions by harnessing the private sector’s capacity to expand distribution, build demand through powerful consumer marketing, and ultimately increase access and uptake.
Results for Development (R4D) and Micronutrient Initiative (MI), the leading nonprofit working exclusively to eliminate vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the world’s most vulnerable populations, are undertaking the first of a two-phase Micronutrient Powders Project commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and focused on developing and scaling the MNP market. This work will occur over a 12 month period beginning in June 2012.
- Engaging demand and supply: The project will operate both to address barriers on the demand (or country) side and supply side. The ultimate objective is to build a virtuous cycle - where high consumer demand feeds increased manufacturer investments.
- Strategic demand generation: R4D will investigate models for effective demand generation for MNPs, including through development of sophisticated public/private sector marketing campaigns.
- Encouraging supply-side investment: At the manufacturer level, R4D will work closely with leading MNP suppliers to create awareness of the market potential for this product, including building a business case for increased investments in improved product characteristics, marketing, and distribution.
- Country implementation: In a subsequent phase of this work, R4D and MI may then seek to scale-up the most promising strategies starting in two to three high-burden countries.
We are partnering with R4D on a revolutionary approach to scale-up micronutrient powders using private sector channels. By coupling R4D’s world-class market dynamics expertise and MI’s leadership in the nutrition sector, we will seek to ensure all infants receive essential vitamins and minerals they need to survive and thrive.
-Venkatesh Mannar, President, Micronutrient Initiative
Photo credit: Courtney Heck/R4D