Strong global partnerships and cross-country dialogue are critical to our mission to introduce high-impact, evidence-based nutrition solutions to women, infants, and young children in need. That’s why we actively collaborate with over 1,200 local organizations around the world to ensure that nutrition programs and interventions are effectively designed and applied to improve outcomes and maximize impact on health and well-being. In October, 2022, the Vitamin Angel Alliance (VA) team joined more than 50 nutrition leaders from countries and sectors across Asia for a meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia to share data, best practices, and lessons learned from their experience implementing multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS) programs for pregnant women.

Hosted by the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Consortium and the Indonesian MMS Technical Advisory Group, the regional meeting was the first of its kind, bringing together partners from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The group was also joined by representatives from NGOs, local government, and international organizations such as Nutrition International, Helen Keller International, Micronutrient Forum, and UNICEF.

asia regional meeting group photo

Throughout the multi-day meeting, panel discussions, presentations, and workshop sessions sparked a rich, cross-country dialogue that explored:

  • • Experiences and lessons learned on MMS policy, advocacy, and implementation
    • • Transforming lessons learned into tools for countries seeking to adopt MMS
      • • Establishing connections with partners and other stakeholders for support
        • • Committing to take-home actions
          • • Advocating for the inclusion of MMS in national policies and accelerated investment in the manufacturing, distribution, and use of MMS at the country level
    • • Establishing a regional MMS network or “Community of Practice.”

The VA team took an active role throughout the week, lending their expertise to the sessions. Dr. Ashutosh Mishra, Senior Regional Technical Director, Asia, and Mr. Otte Santika, Senior Country Program Advisor, Indonesia, provided an overview VA’s implementation science (IS) approach to introducing MMS within the context of strengthening antenatal care services (ANC) for pregnant women. Chief Nutrition Officer, Dr. Kristen Hurley, led a discussion that explored country success and challenges in conducting IS with representatives from Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, and Pakistan. Additionally, Dr. Clayton Ajello, senior technical advisor for the Vitamin Angel Alliance and Kirk Humanitarian, presented a summary of a new resource paper that captures the urgent actions needed to ensure the global, regional, and national supply of UNIMMAP MMS can meet the increasing demand in the coming years.

kristen hurley presenting at asia regional meeting vitamin angels

“I was thrilled to engage in such a rich dialogue with the country representatives,” said Dr. Hurley. “The meeting gave us an important opportunity to unpack and compare experiences and learnings from across the region and to identify key insights that can inform the next phases of MMS introduction.”

The regional meeting closed on a high note, with a final overview of lessons learned and key points addressed. The outcomes of the meeting will ultimately inform effective, context-specific introduction of MMS programming for pregnant women across Asia and beyond. To continue the momentum toward implementing MMS globally, Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies is working to schedule its next regional meeting in Africa in 2023.