Supporting Urgent Nutrition Needs for 1M Pregnant Women in Pakistan Floods

Undernutrition and anemia impact maternal and infant health in Pakistan—problems compounded by catastrophic floods. The Junaid Family Foundation and Kirk Humanitarian are striving to stabilize the situation.

Cleveland, Ohio, December 18, 2022 – The Junaid Family Foundation and Kirk Humanitarian today announced the joint donation of up to 2 million bottles of United Nations International Multiple Micronutrient Antenatal Preparation Multiple Micronutrient Supplements (UNIMMAP MMS) to the Government of Pakistan through the National Disaster Management Association (NDMA) in support of urgent nutrition needs for pregnant women displaced by the catastrophic floods in the Sindh region and elsewhere in Pakistan.

This donation is an emergency expansion of aid stemming from an existing prenatal program in collaboration with the MNHSP started in 2020 which supports distribution of MMS and education around prenatal nutrition free of charge to women who would otherwise not have access. Over 1 million bottles are currently enroute with plans for immediate distribution in 3 key regions, Sindh, Balochistan, and KPK.

Maternal nutrition during pregnancy is critical for maternal and child health outcomes and survival. Under non-crisis situations, Pakistan’s statistics with regards to the health of pregnant women and infants are some of the most concerning in the world 1. Insufficient nutrition is a significant factor in the morbidity and mortality outcomes impacting both populations. Micronutrient deficiencies are extensive across Pakistan with anemia being a common condition and significant deficiencies in other key micronutrients including vitamin A, vitamin D, and zinc. Similar deficiencies are also pervasive in infant and child populations. 2

The monsoon rains and resultant flooding this past summer have left roughly one-third of the country under water and more monsoon rains are expected. Economic losses and damages are estimated at over 30 billion USD with reconstruction needs over 1.6 billion USD. 3 A significant food crisis may be looming for Pakistan which makes the 1.5 million pregnant women displaced by this situation even more vulnerable. According to Ansir Junaid, Trustee and Chairman of The Junaid Family Foundation, “The destruction caused by flooding throughout much of Pakistan is incomprehensible. Starvation due to loss of food stores and the infrastructure to process and move food around the country will be felt significantly by millions. Pregnant women and infants are the most vulnerable of all, and we are committed to provide aid to help alleviate a portion of this suffering.”

Evidence supporting the use of MMS, specifically the UNIMMAP formulation, to improve outcomes for pregnant women and infants is well supported. According to studies published by the Lancet4 and the New York Academy of Sciences5, the use of prenatal supplements containing 15 micronutrients support improvements in infant survival (29% reduction in neonatal mortality) and reduce incidence of low birth weight and small for gestational age births, especially with anemic mothers. UNIMMAP MMS is the only prenatal nutrition supplement endorsed by both the United Nations and WHO for supplemental nutrition within public health nutrition programs.

For the past 2 decades, Kirk Humanitarian has been working to improve maternal and infant health by expanding global access to UNIMMAP MMS. Kirk Humanitarian manufactures and donates UNIMMAP MMS free of charge to qualified recipients who have the capacity to distribute product to women in need. Through Kirk Humanitarian’s partnership with The Junaid Family Foundation, a program has been designed and launched in collaboration with the MNHSP to facilitate introduction and ultimately the inclusion of UNIMMAP MMS administration as a standardized practice of prenatal health in Pakistan. Spencer Kirk, Managing Director at Kirk Humanitarian said: “In emergency situations such as this, meeting the immediate nutritional needs of pregnant women with MMS, specifically United Nations International Multiple Micronutrient Antenatal Preparation (UNIMMAP MMS), is critically important. At the same time, we have and will continue to support long-term and sustainable implementation efforts to introduce and scale UNIMMAP MMS in low- and middle-income countries using an implementation science approach.”

Last year The Junaid Family Foundation and Kirk Humanitarian launched a pilot program with UNIMMAP MMS bottles (126K) distributed across 7 districts of Pakistan. Results to date align with prior MMS studies supporting that MMS has low side effects with few discontinuation rates. Given the current crisis within the country, The Junaid Family Foundation and Kirk Humanitarian have pledged increased support to aid those who have been displaced by the floods and lack access to vital nutrition.

For more information, contact Jackie Sanders at +1 917-566-0624 or jackie@junaidfamilyfoundation.org

1 Aziz et al. Reprod Health 2020, 17(Suppl 3):190 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12978-020-01023-5
2 Ministry of National Health Services Nutrition Wing, 2018. National Nutrition Survey 2018 Key Findings Report: 6.
3 World Bank Group. (2022b, October 28). Pakistan: Flood Damages and Economic Losses Over USD 30 billion and Reconstruction Needs Over USD 16 billion – New Assessment. World Bank. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2022/10/28/pakistan-flood-damages-and-economic-losses-over-usd-30-billion-and-reconstruction-needs-over-usd-16-billion-new-assessme
4 Smith et al., The Lancet Global Health 5 (11) (November): e1090-e1100.
5 Black et al, Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2019 May; 1444(1): 3-5.

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