Maternal, Adolescent, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MAIYCN) is a programme that gives the life cycle approach in addressing the challenges faced in feeding of infants and young children as well as meeting the biological and nutritional needs of adolescents and mothers. The first 1000 days of a child’s life have now been recognized to be a sensitive period in the growth of a child. Growth faltering tends to be common in instances of faulty and sub-optimal maternal, infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices.

Under-nutrition, especially among children below the age of two years affects overall growth and limits full intellectual and physical development. Under nutrition occurring during pregnancy, childhood and adolescence has a cumulative negative impact on the birth weight and health of future babies. Over-nutrition too has equally negative impacts on maternal and child health. Nutrition related non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease among others, have also become serious issues of concern, especially among women of child bearing age.


Zambia Situation Analysis

Current statistics reveal that 73% of mothers breast-feed their babies without any form of supplementation. However, complementary foods are often introduced early, with 17% of children under the age of 6 months and 39% of children age 4-5 months consuming solid or semi-solid foods in addition to breast milk. Child stunting has reduced from 45% in 2007 to 40% in 2013/2014; the country has the target of reducing child stunting to 30% by the end of 2015. On the other hand, over-nutrition (overweight and obesity) among women of childbearing age has increased from 19% in 2007 to 23% in 2013/2014.

Program Objectives

To guide the implementation of MAIYCN activities of all stakeholders (community health workers; teachers; agriculture extension workers; public health workers; social workers; volunteers and other stakeholders) to contribute towards the reduction of stunting in the First 1000 Most Critical Days (MCDs) period.

  1. To provide standard guidelines on maternal, infant and young child nutrition for health to all key stakeholders.
  2. To provide standard messages to all key stakeholders so as to promote good nutrition for mothers, adolescents and children.
  3. To provide standard messages for adolescent’s nutrition in order to prepare them for motherhood.


Programme Activities

  • Development of policy documents

Zambia has developed the MAIYCN guideline and the MIYCN Operational Framework, as well as the training packages for both health workers and community volunteers. The two training packages cover all the components of infant feeding, maternal and adolescent nutrition.


  • Improving adolescent nutrition

Adolescent nutrition presents both under and over nutrition; frequently unnoticed by families or themselves. Negative effects of malnutrition persist throughout the reproductive life and get passed on to offspring; affecting their health and productivity. The NFNC supports youth friendly corners in government health facilities in order to provide technical guidance and nutrition IEC materials to health care workers. The NFNC is also a partner of the School Health and Nutrition Program, offering technical backstopping to the implementation of school health and nutrition activities for both primary and secondary school going children of disadvantaged backgrounds.

Improving maternal nutrition

Maternal nutrition is a key determinant of birth outcome. Evidence has shown that a well nourished mother is likely to give birth to a healthy child who is likely to survive the first 1000 most critical period of life and beyond. In Zambia some of the maternal nutrition interventions include:  Iron Deficiency Anemia prevention, malaria prevention (malaria prophylaxis and ITNs use for expectant mothers), de-worming, as well as nutrition and health education among others.


Zambia has been implementing the infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Program (previously named breastfeeding program) since early 1992. The major intervention has been the promotion of optimal infant feeding practices through implementation of Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), Code of marketing of breast milk substitutes, maternity protection, research and monitoring and evaluation. The NFNC and collaborating partners work to supplement government efforts to equip health care workers with the correct IEC materials on early initiation of breastfeeding for optimal nutrition and growth of every child.


Lack of exclusive breastfeeding within 6 completed months is an important risk factor for malnutrition, morbidity and mortality. Infant and young child feeding in the context of HIV poses significant challenges due to the risk of transmission of the virus via breastfeeding. In Zambia, the focus is now firmly on ensuring HIV-free survival, not just on preventing transmission of HIV.  The NFNC continues to promote exclusive breastfeeding through the development of IEC materials such as posters, brochures and flyers for infant and young child caregivers including health care providers. The NFNC also implements this important activity through TV and radio discussions in English as well as the Zambian local languages.  


  • Encouraging appropriate complementary feeding (6 -24 Months)

Beyond the age of 6 months, breast milk alone is insufficient to meet the child’s nutritional needs, hence complementary foods must be provided in addition to breast milk. The NFNC, through the , promotes the timely introduction of appropriate and adequate complementary foods in order to ensure the child has adequate nutrition and health. The NFNC carries out capacity building in the area of infant feeding and produces such as recipe booklets that educate and inform both health care workers and infant and young child caregivers on various ways of improving infant porridges while encouraging continued breastfeeding and proper water, hygiene and sanitation.


Collaborating Partners

Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of local government and housing, UNICEF, WHO, CARE International, USAID, UKaid and


Our Cooperating Partners