Launching a New Partnership to Strengthen Maternal and Child Health

June 12, 2024

The Hunger Project and eight other organizations are coming together to strengthen maternal and child health and nutrition programs that reach over 12 million children around the world. 

Around the world, women and children are facing malnutrition due to war, famine, climate change and more. Over 1 billion adolescent girls and women suffer from malnutrition today. The effects of malnutrition are passed down from mother to child. Malnourished mothers give birth to malnourished babies. Approximately 148 million children under five are stunted, or are too short for their age, and 45 million are affected by wasting or are underweight for their age. These children suffer irreversible impacts on their brain development and futures. It creates a cycle of chronic hunger.

Ensuring proper nutrition during pregnancy and lactation is essential to creating a world without hunger. That’s why we are teaming up with CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, Helen Keller International, iDE, MAP International, Save the Children, and Vitamin Angels, as part of an initiative coordinated and funded by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that aims to strengthen maternal and child health and nutrition programs in 12 countries. This collaboration will reach 12 million children (age 5 or younger) and 2.7 million expectant and new mothers in Africa and Asia. The efforts in this initiative build on proven interventions, including treatment and prevention of malnutrition in infants, and young children, maternal mental health care, and efforts to strengthen food systems. 

As part of this larger initiative, The Hunger Project will be closely collaborating with Catholic Relief Services, MAP International and Vitamin Angels on a specific project to improve access and utilization of maternal and newborn services in Ghana, reaching about 150,000 people in rural Ghana. This work builds on long-standing relationships and work with community and hospital health systems. It will strengthen communities’ ability to take action and provide a supportive environment for women and young children’s health, particularly maternal mental health; increase access to health and nutrition services and products; and improve the provision of care to people with physical or neurological differences.

We are honored to be part of this project and look forward to working with our partner organizations and local leaders to bring forward a vision of a hunger-free future where moms, children and their communities have the opportunity to thrive. Working collaboratively like this allows us to have a much broader impact that will lead to the systems strengthening needed to benefit communities around the world.

Tim Prewitt, President and CEO of The Hunger Project.

The Hunger Project has a strong track record of improving maternal health in Ghana. Since 2017, we have been partnering closely with Ghana Health Service and the Else-Kröner-Fresenius Foundation to address the challenge of limited access and poor quality of essential maternal and reproductive health services in 450 communities. Over 1,200 health and nutrition animators, or local volunteer leaders, have trained with us to counsel pregnant women on nutrition and support caregivers to optimally feed their children. In these communities, the practice and knowledge of exclusive breastfeeding has increased from 59.78% to 81.54%, improving infant nutrition and well-being.

This collaboration with the Church, Catholic Relief Services, MAP International and Vitamin Angels seeks to create empowered families, stronger communities, improved health services, and improved outcomes in maternal, newborn, child health and nutrition – enveloping children with the support and care they need to survive and thrive.

Photo above: Women in the field Ghana, 2023; Photo for The Hunger Project by Johannes Ode