The maternal mortality rate in Nigeria is among the highest in the world, with an estimated 512 deaths per 100,000 live births, even as the country director, Vitamin Angels, Nigeria, Dr Francis Ohanyido has advocated for the roll out of Multiple Micronutrient Supplement (MMS), a formulation of multi vitamin for pregnant women as identified by the United Nations to help pregnant women have a better value in terms of nutrition for themselves and their children
Ohanyido said micronutrients like Vitamins A, C, D, E, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, B12, folic acid and Minerals: iron, zinc, iodine, copper, and selenium, could lead to serious health issues.
For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that a lack of iron, folate and vitamins B12 and A, can lead to anaemia, a condition in which there is a reduced number of red blood cells or haemoglobin concentration, causing fatigue, weakness, shortage of breath and dizziness.
Inadequate nutrition can lead to serious maternal health outcomes and even to the death of the mother and her baby, the country director, Vitamin Angels, Nigeria, Dr Francis Ohanyido said, adding that globally, many women lack access to nutritious diets, quality health and nutrition services.
To tackle micronutrient deficiencies during pregnancy, Ohanyido suggested the use of Multiple Micronutrient Supplement (MMS), a formulation of multi vitamin for pregnant women as identified by the United Nations would help pregnant women to have a better value in terms of nutrition for themselves and their children.
Ohanyido, said several studies have showed that MMS has significant benefits compared to Iron and Folic Acid (IFA), as it contains 15 micronutrients, including IFA.
He stated that before 2020, global policy guidance recommended use of IFA, adding that with the introduction of MMS, several studies support switching from IFA to MMS, especially for women with poor diets.
“The reason for that is because MMS contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals for pregnant and nursing women and meets micronutrient requirements that poor diets cannot meet. It contains vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, copper, Iodine, Iron, Selenium and Zinc, which help to improve maternal nutrition and reduce the risk of adverse birth outcomes.
“In fact, MMS provides even greater benefit for anemic women and underweight women compared to IFA. Findings of a study carried out to assess the effects of MMS compared with IFA in Indonesia showed that early infant mortality of babies whose mothers are undernourished was reduced by 25 per cent with MMS. Even greater results for babies of anemic women, with reduction of infant mortality by 38 per cent and risk of Low Birth Weight (LBW) decreased by 33 per cent with MMS.
“Additionally, it reduces the risk of female infant mortality in the first six months by 15 per cent. More so, it is cost effective and safe,” he revealed.
He disclosed that transitioning from IFA to MMS can avert between seven to 28 million additional infant deaths and disabilities across 132 LMICs, adding that scaling up MMS to 90 per cent coverage is projected to contribute to huge human capital gains for all babies born per year across 132 LMICs.
The country director revealed that the Nigerian government, in January 2021, approved MMS and micronutrient powder in the Micronutrient Deficiency Control Guideline, which is a policy document that regulate supplements given to women and children.