The New York Academy of Sciences today announced that multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS) have now been included in the World Health Organization's (WHO) Model List of Essential Medicines (known as EML), as an antenatal supplement for pregnant women.
The 23rd Expert Committee on the Selection and Use of Essential Medicines recommended the inclusion of MMS based on strong evidence that it is a cost-effective intervention that has significant benefits compared to iron and folic acid supplementation in reducing the risk of stillbirth, low and very low birth weight babies, small for gestational age births, and preterm births.
The inclusion of MMS in EML is a huge milestone in making this cost-effective intervention more accessible to pregnant women, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. More infants will survive and fewer infants will be born too small or too early."
Megan Bourassa, PhD, Director of Nutrition Science, New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences' MMS Technical Advisory Group and Micronutrient Forum submitted an application to WHO in November, 2020, to consider including MMS in the EML, which is updated every two years. A number of country authorities and global experts in the field of maternal and child nutrition wrote letters in support of the application. The 2020 WHO Antenatal Care Guidelines recommend the use of MMS only in a research-specific context. However, the EML Committee believes that the inclusion of MMS in the EML may facilitate such research.
The Academy's Nutrition Science Program and the Micronutrient Forum believe scaling up programs that deliver MMS to vulnerable mothers is now an urgent priority that requires efficient supply chain systems and building awareness of its positive health benefits among mothers, communities, and antenatal health providers.
Nutrition experts at the Academy and Forum say inclusion of MMS in WHO's EML will motivate and support countries worldwide to include MMS in their national EMLs. This would facilitate the smooth integration of MMS into their health systems and support the delivery of MMS to the most vulnerable mothers.