Supporting mothers to protect their children from malnutrition in Bangladesh

Asma with son Araf in health clinic

28 March 2024


Malnutrition – particularly for women and children – is a global challenge. Nearly 14 million children suffer with severe malnutrition around the world, and it is linked to half of all deaths among children under 5. The cost and lack of access to nutritious food and the limited knowledge of what is required for a healthy pregnancy for both baby and mother mean that thousands of babies are already in severe danger of malnutrition before they are even born.

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Ensuring women have access to essential healthcare and nutrition services before, during and after pregnancy can mean the difference between life and death. CARE is working in several countries, including Bangladesh, to support mothers to protect their children from malnutrition.

Tackling malnutrition in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh alone, there are currently more than half a million babies suffering from severe malnutrition. The JANO (Joint Action for Nutrition Outcomes) project in Bangladesh, delivered by CARE and partner organisations, aims to reduce malnutrition and support mothers before, during and after pregnancy.

The project carries out a range of activities, including awareness training on health and nutrition. Community volunteers conduct household and community visits to make sure that mothers are getting the support and advice they need. They also help families to grow their own food and crops to support a healthier and more affordable diet.

Asma’s story

Asma with son Araf in health clinic

Image: Asma with her son Araf in a health clinic © CARE/Sarah Easter

Asma is one of the mothers who is benefiting from the JANO project. When she became pregnant for the second time, she was understandably nervous as her first child was sadly born malnourished.

“When I was pregnant with my first child, I didn’t have access to a community clinic, and I knew very little about which foods my baby and I needed”, Asma told us. “I was always worried about what could happen.”

But with support from the JANO project, Asma’s second pregnancy was much smoother. They gave Asma access to a clinic and regular check-ups.

I learnt about nutrition, how to look after myself, and which foods a baby needs at different stages in their development” - Asma

Now, Asma and both of her children are happy and healthy. “Araf [her baby son] is healthy and growing stronger every day,” says Asma. “But not everyone has access to support like the JANO project. There is still not enough to eat. In the community many are worried about the future and what will happen if costs continue to rise.”

Malnutrition is still a threat

Malnutrition and child mortality rates have reduced significantly in the last 15 years. And projects like JANO are making a difference. But there is still much more to do, and the spiralling cost of living makes survival more difficult than ever. The cost of basic items is rising rapidly and more than 300 million people are unable to reliably get affordable, nutritious food.

Without urgent action today, millions of mothers and their children will be pushed into severe malnutrition with life-threatening consequences.

You could help fund projects like JANO and help reduce the risk of malnutrition in babies.

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