Meeting a fundamental need: social marketing of micronutrients prevents anemia, saves lives

Meeting a fundamental need: social marketing of micronutrients prevents anemia, saves lives

Social marketing of micronutrients raises awareness of vitamins

This document reviews the impact of the social marketing of micronutrient supplements in developing countries. It argues that this practice is preventing anemia in women of reproductive age and averting maternal deaths due to lack of iron.

Claims include:

  • over 3.5 billion people worldwide are affected by iron deficiencies
  • rates of iron deficiency in developing countries are very high: 44% of women, 42% of preschoolers, 53% of school-age children and 33% of men
  • iron deficiency is the leading cause of anemia and severe iron deficiency is an underlying cause of childbirth-related death, responsible for as much as 20% of maternal deaths
  • many countries’ attempts to combat iron deficiencies during pregnancy with the distribution of iron folate through prenatal clinics has proved less than successful because many women in developing countries do not seek prenatal treatment or do so too late to take advantage of iron folate
  • vitamin products are usually high-priced, contain so little iron that they are useless in addressing iron deficiency, are not packaged attractively or promoted actively, nor is any effort made to target low-income groups
  • social marketing targets women outside the reach of public health programs by creating informed demand, improving knowledge and practices, and making supplements more widely available at pharmacies and non-traditional outlets
  • marketed attractively, priced affordably and distributed widely, the promotion of high-quality micronutrient supplements through social marketing leads to health impact
  • PSI's experiences with VitalDia in Bolivia, and Vitalet-Preg in India, have proved the usefulness of social marketing to improve awareness of vitamins and reduce anemia

[adapted from author]

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