Category Archives: News

Nepal Earthquake – 25 April 2015

Our thoughts are with our colleagues in Nepal and with all those affected by the recent earthquake. The following organisations are actively involved in providing emergency assistance in the area and have demonstrated capacity to provide appropriate infant and young child feeding interventions.



Save the Children


Infants and young children are especially vulnerable in the wake of natural disasters. Breastfeeding, whether by the baby’s own mother or a wet-nurse, offers the best chance of survival for infants.


Infant formula, other milk products, bottles or teats must never be included in a general ration distribution. The use of bottles and teats in emergency contexts should be actively avoided (Operational Guidance Section 6).


Operational Guidance, including training modules, policies and program guidance can be found at

CommCare Workshop – January 2015

The SAIFRN CommCare workshop was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh between 18th and 21st January 2015 at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr, b) premises. The workshop focused advanced use of the CommCare platform and designing a mobile application that can be tested for use as an IYCF behaviour change intervention.


Saijai Liangpunsakul and Anushree Banerji encouraged delegates to draft questionnaire trees and message sets for their respective pilot studies and then to develop questionnaires using CommCare. Delegates developed case management and troubleshooting skills and they have opened a skype group to enable them to continue to support one another.


The icddr,b team is to be congratulated for successfully conducting such an important workshop, despite a politically adverse situation. Our security was their priority at all times and they were particularly attentive to ensuring we travelled safely to and from our venues. Delegates returned to their countries ready to pilot Commcare to explore the feasibility and acceptability of using mobile phone communications for IYCF counseling.


The icddr,b team is to be congratulated for successfully conducting such an important workshop, despite a politically adverse situation. Our security was their priority at all times and they were particularly attentive to ensuring we travelled safely to and from our venues. Delegates returned to their countries ready to pilot Commcare to explore the feasibility and acceptability of using mobile phone communications for IYCF counseling.





Dr. Tanzir Ahmed Shuvo

Syeda Kamrun Nahar

Samina Israt


Megha Raj Banjara

Isha Karmacharya


Hana Yahya

Dr. Yasmeen Hanif


Aravinda Wickramasinghe




SAIFRN-Nepal is the Nepalese Chapter of SAIFRN. In 2014 we were registered as an independent not-for-profit organization by the Government of Nepal.


The initial involvement of Nepal in SAIFRN dates back to 2007 with grant support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (formerly AusAID) as part of the Public Sector Linkages Program. The inaugural meeting in Nagpur, India included Ms Sharda Pandey, then Chief of Nutrition Section, Dr Kalpana Tiwari, nutritionist and Ms Nira Joshi, researcher.


In 2014, the SAIFRN Nepal team was restructured in order to strengthen our collaborations and increase our research output. Prof. Madhu Dixit Devkota leads the Chapter. Prof. Prakash Sundar Shrestha and Asst. Prof. Megaraj Banjara provide academic and research expertise. Mr Raj Kumar Pokharel represents the Government of Nepal. Ms Pooja Pandey Rana, Mr Sumit Karn and Mr Deepak Thapa bring expertise from national and international non-government organisations involved in nutrition service delivery. Dr Kalpana Tiwari, nutritionist and Ms Nira Joshi provide further research support.


In a very short time SAIFRN-Nepal has become an influential collaboration of partners and stakeholders working in nutrition sector.


SAIFRN-Nepal’s Activities


  • Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Policy analysis
  • Formative research on mobile phone use for IYCF counselling
  • IYCF Peer counseling
  • IYCF evidence review in collaboration with UNICEF-Nepal
  • Anemia evidence review in collaboration with UNICEF-Nepal
  • Understanding IYCF in food insecure areas
  • Designing pilot intervention of mobile phone counselling for IYCF




ASAIFRN-Nepal’s research generated information on IYCF practices that inform the national policies and strategies. Our most significant improvements include:


  • Co-chairing the Civil Society Alliance for Nutrition in Nepal (CSANN)
  • Collaborating with UNICEF Nepal and Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) to write 5 papers on IYCF
  • Conducting an explorative study of Coping Strategies on IYCF in Food Insecure Areas supported by UNICEF Nepal
  • Developing the National Strategy for Reaching to Unreached to Reduce Health and Nutrition Inequity for MoHP in collaboration with Save the Children Nepal


Next Steps


In 2015, the organization will pilot a mobile phone counseling intervention designed to improve IYCF. This study will inform the design of large-scale interventions that will be submitted for competitive grant funding. We are working to expand our partnership with the Government of Nepal and NGOs interested in IYCF within and outside South Asia. We are also working to provide opportunities for researchers in the region to improve their skills through participation in capacity building programs in collaboration with international partners. The SAIFRN Nepal is seeking further support for our activities from a variety of potential donors. If you know of an organization interested in joining us in our work, please contact us using the link at the top of the page.


Infant and young child feeding policy analysis and NET-Map Exercises held in Bangladesh

The launching ceremony of the IYCF NET-Map analysis of Bangladesh was held on 5th June, 2014 at the Institute of Public Health Nutrition, Dhaka. The event was jointly organized by ICDDR, B and Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation (BBF) in the banner of SAIFRN Bangladesh. The purpose of this ceremony was to get endorsement from the Bangladesh Government for policy analysis work. The event was chaired by the Director of the Institute of Public Health Nutrition as well as the Line Director, National Nutrition Services, Dr. Md. Shah Nawaz and Additional Secretary, Primary Health,Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ms. Roxana Quader, was the chief guest. Almost 30 representatives from different organizations attended the ceremony. Following the welcome speech by Dr. S. K. Roy from BBF, a key note presentation was delivered by Dr. Sabrina Rasheed from ICDDR, B which explained the necessity for such a project. Ms. Kader reiterated the importance of collaborative efforts in developing IYCF policies and also offered full support of the Government of Bangladesh to activities that help to formulate evidence-based policy.


After the Launching Ceremony, 3 workshops were held on the 5th, 9th and 12th of June. In each of the workshops, representatives from the Government, The UN, Donor Organizations, NGOs, civil society, as well as research and Academia also participated. Additionally, others such as prominent and influential persons and media were invited to talk about important stakeholders and their link to IYCF policy formulation. Throughout the exercise, technical support and funding links were explored. The maps created during the 3 workshops will help us to understand the actors involved in IYCF policy development as well as strategies to engage them in the future in order to strengthen IYCF activities within Bangladesh.


Infant and young child feeding policy analysis and NET-Map Exercises held in Bangladesh1



Saving Newborn Lives by Early Initiation of Breast Feeding and Exclusive Breast Feeding: Dissemination Seminar in Pakistan



The Health, Education and Literacy Programme (HELP), in collaboration with implementation partners SAIFRN and the Nutrition Cell, Balochistan held a dissemination seminar entitled “Saving Newborn Lives by Early Initiation of Breastfeeding and Exclusive Breastfeeding”. This project was funded by the Maternal and Newborn Health Programme – Research and Advocacy Fund (RAF).


Participants at this event included: Mr Inamullah Khan Dharejo (Secretary for Health, Government of Sindh), Dr Ashfaq Memon (Director General of Sindh Health Services), Dr. Asif Aslam (UNICEF), Dr. Zeeshan (WHO), Dr. Laila Rizvi and Dr. Kashif Riaz (THF), Dr. Bilquis Hashim (Lady Duferin Hospital), Dr. Sadia Ahsan Pal (NCMNH and AMAN) as well as a number of other leading physicians and pediatricians from across Pakistan. The dissemination seminar also received interest from University faculty, various sectors of Government, media, religious leaders and civil service organizations operating in the diverse communities of Sindh.


Speaking at the event, Professor D.S. Akram (HELP Chairperson) and Assoc. Professor Michael Dibley (University of Sydney) advocated for wide-scale adoption of early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding practices as a means to make significant strides in the child health including saving the lives of up to 1.3 million children each year in Pakistan alone (equivalent to a 22% reduction in infant mortality). Dr Dibley also presented cross country comparison on timely initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, full breastfeeding and bottle feeding, using DHS data analysed by SAIFRN. They cited prevention of malnutrition/under-nutrition, improved immune function and birth spacing as importance benefits of breastfeeding.


Professor Akram also considered the detrimental impact of poorly regulated marketing of breastmilk substitutes on the high rates of bottle-feeding (33%) seen in Pakistan, stating that inadequate consideration of the issue in both medical/nursing curricula and maternal counseling guides was a significant barrier change. Building on this, Dr. Mallick Maroof Imam (HELP Project Coordinator) discussed the implementation of legislation entitled “Sindh Promotion and Protection of Breastfeeding and Child Nutrition Ordinance 2013” including policy change and public education for the protection of breastfeeding.


Mr Inamullah Khan Dharejo (Secretary for Health, Government of Sindh) and Dr Ashfaq Memon (Director General of Sindh Health Services) in their respective addresses acknowledged the value of HELP and partners’ research activities. The session culminated in strong statements of support for the full implementation of the legislation to regulate marketing of breastmilk substitutes in Sindh Province, Pakistan.




Dr. Victor Aguayo appointed UNICEF Regional Nutrition Advisor for South Asia


 Congratulations to our good friend Dr. Victor Aguayo on his appointment as the new UNICEF Regional Nutrition Advisor for South Asia!


Over the last 20 years, Victor has held research, programme, advisory and leadership positions in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in the area of Maternal and Child Nutrition and Child Survival, Growth and Development. In his new capacity, Victor will be supporting UNICEF country teams in Afganistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as UNICEF’s partners across the region.


Victor has been a great supporter of our work from start. While Chief of the UNICEF Child Nutrition and Development Programme in India, Victor was instrumental in increasing our visibility in the subcontinent. He hosted our first research dissemination meeting at UNICEF, India and chaired the SAIFRN symposium at the 2012 World Breastfeeding Congress. Further, by offering Dr. Archana Patel’s team further funding, he has facilitated the analysis of breastfeeding indicators at the state level in India.


We wish him all the best and look forward to working with him to achieve our shared goals for child survival and development.