SCALING UP ACCESS TO PRENATAL VITAMINS FOR KIRK HUMANITARIAN

The Kirk Humanitarian Foundation (KH) is a U.S.-based foundation that is dedicated to producing and donating multiple micronutrient prenatal vitamins for pregnant women in developing countries.

Please see Kirk Humanitarian’s website for more information.

THE PROBLEM

Recent evidence in the Lancet has confirmed that multiple micronutrients (MMS) containing 15 essential vitamins have the potential to significantly reduce low birthweight by 19% and 6-month infant mortality by 29% for babies born to anemic mothers vs. iron and folic acid (IFA) alone. MMS are standard for pregnant women in developed countries such as the US and Canada; however, the World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommends that women in developing countries who are at much greater risk of anemia and poor birth outcomes only receive IFA.

Kirk Humanitarian has been working since 2005 to right this inequity and ensure that all women in developing countries have access to the same protective prenatal vitamins as pregnant women in the US; however, the lack of a clear guideline from WHO recommending MMS, low awareness of the superiority of MMS over IFA and resulting low demand, and finally limited global MMS supply have all resulted in very low access and uptake to these more effective prenatal supplements.

Kirk Humanitarian has set a goal to reach 5 million women by 2020 with MMS, and 10 million women by 2025, and has asked Pharos to develop a strategic plan for the organization and to assist with its implementation.

THE PHAROS SOLUTION

Pharos has developed a strategy for Kirk Humanitarian, centered around the following four objectives to support the overall organizational goal to reach 5 million women with MMS at the lowest possible cost: 1) Ensure healthy global supply; 2) Increase demand generation; 3) Promote sustainable adoption by country governments; and 4) Focus on efficiency. Pharos has been supporting Kirk Humanitarian to implement this strategy by sourcing high-quality implementing partners with large-scale distribution capacity, identifying promising research opportunities to increase the evidence-base of the superiority of MMS over IFA, negotiating agreements with pioneering developing countries interested in scaling MMS immediately, and strengthening KH’s capacity to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the organizations and countries currently receiving MMS from KH.

LOOKING AHEAD

By reaching its goals to provide access to MMS to 5 million women per year by 2020, Kirk Humanitarian is giving these women and their babies a better chance to have a healthier start in life.

Status: In-progress

Team Members Involved: Robert Hecht, Shan Soe-Lin, and Lindsey Hiebert

For more information, contact Shan Soe-Lin at shan@pharosglobalhealth.com.