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Multiple Micronutrient Supplements in Humanitarian Emergencies

By Kate Sadler on 19 June 2024

In this short 4-minute video listen to Dr Kate Sadler provide an overview of what we cover in our State of Play Report on the use of Multiple Micronutrient Supplements in humanitarian emergencies. We hope this provides a taster of what you’ll find in the full report – please take a read and let us know what you think.

You can access the full report and the accompanying case studies from Pakistan and Somalia online.


Slide 1:

Hi, I'm Kate Sadler, technical associate at the Emergency Nutrition Network. Welcome to this brief overview of ENN's latest report on the use of multiple micronutrient supplements or MMS in humanitarian emergencies.

Slide 2:

We know that women and girls are disproportionately affected by conflict and disasters due to their increased nutritional needs and vulnerabilities. Addressing their human right to adequate nutrition is critical and daily multiple micronutrient supplements can play a crucial role in improving maternal and birth outcomes. However, there is extremely limited information on the extent to which women and adolescent girls receive MMS in humanitarian emergencies.

Where MMS programming exists in these contexts, details and implementation and barriers to successful scale up are often lacking. This report aims to fill some of these important knowledge gaps.

Slide 3:

Information for this report was sourced from an online survey, two in-depth country case studies from Pakistan and Somalia, and additional key informant interviews.

Slide 4:

In the State of Play report, we provide a brief background to MMS, summarising the key evidence and policies. We define humanitarian emergencies and also summarise the humanitarian system for nutrition programming. We present the results of the online survey and provide a short summary of the two case studies. The in-depth standalone case studies can also be found on our website.

Finally, we pulled together the key themes regarding barriers to and opportunities for the use of MMS in humanitarian emergencies.

Slide 5:

In the report, we cover the main points about the humanitarian system for nutrition programming in emergencies. We explain how it can be helpful to think about humanitarian response in two main categories: the first: international humanitarian action led by the Nutrition Cluster, and the second:  government-led domestic crisis management. This distinction, but also their overlap, is a key theme we explain in detail throughout the report.

This quote sums up the realities nicely: "Focusing on the international humanitarian system to understand how people survive and recover from a crisis is akin to viewing a large landscape through a pin-sized hole."

Slide 6:

We received a total of 131 individual responses to our online survey, representing 39 different countries. Respondents from 28 countries stated that they distributed MMS to women in humanitarian programmes.

Slide 7:

Financing of MMS programming was the most commonly reported barrier across countries by a large margin, followed by three similarly ranked barriers: Inadequate country policy or protocols, inadequate supply chain and inadequate awareness of benefits of MMS by healthcare workers and target populations.

Slide 8:

We took the key findings from the survey, case studies and additional key informant interviews and summarised them in the report by WHO health system building block. This structure helped us to cover key barriers and opportunities related to leadership and governance, service delivery, financing, health, workforce supplies and information systems.

Slide 9:

In summary, our findings suggest that whilst humanitarian emergencies undeniably present additional complex barriers to MMS programming coverage, what is needed to address them in these contexts remains fundamentally the same as what is needed in all settings, namely using the lens of health systems strengthening to make MMS programming as effective as possible within quality ANC services.

Slide 10:

This report provides snapshot of the state of MMS programming in humanitarian emergencies, but undoubtedly has not captured all relevant programming experiences and contexts. Take a read and let us know your additional experiences and thoughts.

Thank you to UNICEF, the Eleanor Crook Foundation and the Department of Foreign Affairs Ireland for the generous support in funding this.

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