FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AED receives Gates Foundation grant to improve nutrition and reduce deaths among young children in developing countries
WASHINGTON, D.C.—March 5, 2009—AED today announced that it has received a $76 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support efforts to improve infant and young child nutrition in developing countries in Africa and Asia. The initiative, Alive & Thrive, will work to increase rates of exclusive breastfeeding and improve complementary feeding for children 6-24 months old.
Each year, 1.4 million children die and millions more are permanently disabled as a result of poor feeding practices. Alive & Thrive will focus on shaping demand for, and overcoming barriers to, improved feeding practices, creating public/private partnerships to make low-cost fortified foods available, and advocating for sustained support for infant and young child nutrition.
“We know the value of breastfeeding in reducing infant deaths and that good complementary feeding is important for child nutrition. We also know what constitutes best practices, but we have yet to document which interventions have the most impact in moving mothers to adopt these practices so we can implement them effectively at a national scale,” said Jean Baker, Alive & Thrive project director at AED.
“Alive & Thrive aims to save the lives of more than half a million children by addressing the obstacles to proper infant and child feeding by creating new program models in several countries that can ultimately be replicated throughout the developing world,” Baker added.
Policy and workplace constraints, social misperceptions, detrimental practices in health facilities, and limited caregiver information and support are among the barriers the project will tackle. The project will support comprehensive efforts, including robust policies to enable optimal infant and child feeding practices, public education, skilled counseling, and tailored strategies for at-risk populations.
Working closely with governments, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and community groups, Alive & Thrive will identify appropriate, context-specific solutions for overcoming lack of access to affordable and easy-to-use food products for older infants and young children.
AED will manage and coordinate the five-year project, building on its two decades of experience in improving breastfeeding and infant nutrition practices and its work in developing public-private partnerships to produce and distribute affordable health products.
AED will partner with Save the Children, World Vision, and BRAC, drawing on their in-country networks and expertise to tailor approaches to meet specific country needs. The International Food Policy Research Institute will monitor and evaluate programs to document impact, the University of California-Davis will coordinate research and lend technical support, and GMMB will provide communications and advocacy expertise.
“Infant and young child nutrition is a bedrock global health issue,” said Ellen Piwoz, senior program officer at the Gates Foundation. “Alive & Thrive will help ensure that children receive proper nutrition during the first two years of life, which is critical to their long-term health and development.”
AED—the Academy for Educational Development—is a nonprofit organization working globally to improve health, education, civil society and economic development–the foundation of thriving societies. Focusing on the underserved, AED implements more than 250 programs serving people in all 50 U.S. states and more than 150 countries.