Harnessing private sector expertise to improve complementary feeding within a regulatory framework: Where is the evidence?


Global recognition that the complex and multicausal problems of malnutrition require all players to collaborate and to invest towards the same objective has led to increased private sector engagement as exemplified through the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network and mechanisms for blended financing and matched funding, such as the Global Nutrition for Growth Compact.The careful steps made over the past 5 to 10 years have however not taken away or reduced the hesitation and scepticism of the public sector actors towards commercial or even social businesses. Evidence of impact or even a positive contribution of a private sector approach to inter-mediate nutrition outcomes is still lacking.

This commentary aims to discuss the multiple ways in which private sector can leverage its expertise to improve nutrition in general, and complementary feeding in particular. It draws on specific lessons learned in Bangladesh, Côte d'Ivoire, India,Indonesia, and Madagascar on how private sector expertise has contributed, within the boundaries of a regulatory framework, to improve availability, accessibility, affordability, and adequate use of nutritious foods. It concludes that a solid evidence base regarding the contribution of private sector to complementary feeding is still lacking and that the development of a systematic learning agenda is essential to make progress in the area of private sector engagement in nutrition.

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