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The IF Global Prevention Initiative celebrates 2nd anniversary

29 October 2018

29th October 2018 // Sunday, October 28th saw us celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the IF Global Prevention Initiative (IFGPI). This pioneering strategy initiated by the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF) aims to bring together individuals, organisations with shared interests and goals, health professionals and researchers, to tackle the globally shared issue of Neural Tube Defect (NTD) prevention, and reducing the risk of hydrocephalus.

The IFGPI is committed to developing networks with health professionals and researchers all over the world, and communicates key public health messages in both written format, and most significantly via social media platforms, with the aim of reaching as many women of childbearing age as possible.

Last year the IFGPI developed a new folic acid information leaflet targeted at women of childbearing age, to provide key educational information about the importance of preconceptional folic acid, and dietary sources of folate and fortified foods, in reducing the risk of NTDs. The leaflet was well received, and has since been translated into a number of different languages, and will continue to be translated to meet demand.

However, a recent US study, revealed that half of women aged 18-24 were not taking folic acid supplements at the critical time, before they try to conceive. They concluded that this lack of observance of the global recommendation (for all women who could become pregnant, to take a daily supplement containing 400mcg folic acid, ideally for 3  months before conception, until the 12th week of pregnancy), was partially down to a failure in effectively communicating vital public health information to the target age group.

IF’s Programme Manager, Global Prevention, Martine Austin said:

We have long argued about the necessity for more innovative means of communicating vital prevention messages in order to reach younger women of childbearing age, and this latest research clearly supports this belief. Relying on traditional forms of public health communication alone, is simply NOT effective in communicating messages about preconceptional folic acid to all of the key demographic, and subsequently far too many women, particularly those of the so called ‘Instagram Generation’, are being failed.’

From the very beginning, the IFGPI has demonstrated an understanding that social media platforms are now key to reaching young women with important health information, and we need to be doing much more to ensure that this important health information is shared via these platforms. We have recently increased our own social media presence (with the start of our ‘Women’s Health Wednesday’ polls) and have noted an encouraging increase in engagement. This week the IFGPI will be sharing key messages across all social media platforms to help maintain the momentum of the prevention conversation, and to continue to raise much needed awareness.

World leaders in the supplement market, Vitabiotics are the Principal Global Partner of the initiative.

Robert Taylor, Senior Vice President of Vitabiotics commented:

“Pregnacare is delighted to support IF as the worldwide partner of its Global Prevention Initiative and to celebrate its second anniversary. As pioneers of nutrition in pregnancy, Pregnacare vitamins has a passionate and long standing commitment to NTD prevention and preconception health and nutrition. The reported low awareness amongst younger women of the importance of taking folic acid before they conceive is a cause for concern. In continuing working in partnership with IF we hope to further increase the awareness and supplemental intake of folic acid, and key nutrients such as vitamin B12, before conception and during pregnancy, for women worldwide”.

The IFGPI remains as committed as ever to the global drive for mandatory fortification with folic acid, to extending its international networks, and developing more innovative ways in which to reach ALL women with this important information.

Tacking this issue on a global level is no easy task, and wouldn’t be possible without a global network of supporters, and the invaluable support of Vitabiotics Pregnacare.

Martine Austin said:

 ‘The IFGPI certainly wouldn’t be what it is today without the ongoing support of Vitabiotics. We are incredibly grateful for this important partnership, and look forward to it going from strength to strength in 2019.’

If you’ve not already joined the campaign, you can sign up and add your support to the Global Prevention Initiative here https://goo.gl/na2eS0

We invite you to use and share the social media toolkit we created specially for this 2nd anniversary!