Global Relief Society Women Lead Worldwide Initiative to Support Communities in Alleviating Child Malnutrition and Enhancing Maternal Health

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joins with eight leading nonprofit organizations to improve maternal and child health worldwide.

SALT LAKE CITY, June 12, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the Relief Society General Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announces the expansion of the Church’s global efforts to improve the health and well-being of women and children under the age of 5. With many groups engaged in this important work, the Church will collaborate with eight internationally recognized nonprofit organizations–CARE InternationalCatholic Relief Services, Helen Keller Intl, iDE, MAP International, Save the Children, The Hunger Project, and Vitamin Angels to strengthen maternal and child health and nutrition programs to benefit millions of children throughout the world. This focused effort shows a church engaged in humanitarian work locking arms with industry experts in addressing an ongoing global concern.

  • There are over 3 billion people globally who cannot afford a healthy diet and are at risk for malnutrition (The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2023 Report). This is especially problematic for the most nutritionally vulnerable populations including pregnant women, infants, and young children. 
  • According to the Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates (JME) 2023 report, approximately 148 million children under five are stunted, or are too short for their age and 45 million are affected by wasting or are underweight for their age. 
  • For pregnant women, more than one-third globally have anemia according to the World Health Organization. 
  • Ensuring proper nutrition during pregnancy and lactation is essential for the well-being of both mothers and their children.
  • This collaborative work is critical to accelerating progress. Evidence-based nutrition interventions support healthy pregnancies, reduce infant and maternal mortality, and optimize growth and development. 
The Church joins eight leading nonprofit organizations to improve maternal health and child health worldwide.

“Each of these organizations has an exceptional track record of collaborating and implementing global programs to improve maternal and child health,” said Relief Society General President, Camille N. Johnson. “Our goal is to help them scale their work and bring women and children the much-needed health and nutrition services they need. We are confident in their abilities and their proven results around the world.”

“Scaling up cost-effective, proven nutrition services is essential to transforming the lives of mothers and children globally,” said Sarah Bouchie, CEO of Helen Keller Intl. “We are grateful for the extraordinary investment in nutrition from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In partnership with our peer organizations, this investment will help communities to create lasting change so that every child has the opportunity to grow up healthy.”

The Church says new funding totaling $55.8 million will be shared among these eight organizations. These funds will support evidence-based public health interventions, including treatment and prevention of malnutrition in women, infants, and young children, maternal mental health care, and efforts to strengthen food systems. These resources aim to improve access to nutrition, strengthen health systems, and support efforts specifically focused on the health and well-being of women and children. 

Funds will support projects that enable 12 million children ages 5 and younger and 2.7 million expectant and new mothers helping them gain access to adequate nutrition and healthcare. Households represented are located in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Zambia.

“We are honored to be part of this project and look forward to working with our partner organizations and local leaders to bring forward a vision of a hunger-free future where moms, children and their communities have the opportunity to thrive,” said Tim Prewitt, The Hunger Project President and CEO. “Working collaboratively like this allows us to have a much broader impact that will lead to the systems strengthening needed to benefit communities.”

“Mothers are at the center of homes around the world. When they are healthy and can provide nutritious food for their children communities thrive and nations prosper,” said President Johnson. “Day-to-day realities for women across the globe may be unique, but we share a common desire to feed our children. It is an investment in the future.”

Work among each of the organizations has already commenced. Last week, representatives from each nonprofit gathered in Accra, Ghana to enhance their collaborative effort. A progress update will be shared with the global community in spring 2025.

The Relief Society General Presidency is called to lead the Relief Society, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ organization for women, which has millions of members worldwide. The presidency is composed of a president, who is called by the President of the Church, and two counselors. These three women travel around the world to visit, teach, and minister to the women of the Church. They also counsel with other general Church leaders regarding global humanitarian efforts and strengthen women and families of all backgrounds.

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SOURCE The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints