Helen Keller Intl partners with governments across Africa and Asia to provide millions of children every year with lifesaving vitamin A supplements and other nutrients.
Vitamin A strengthens vision, prevents blindness, and builds children’s immune systems so that they are strong enough to fight childhood illnesses like colds, flu, malaria, and diarrhoea. Without enough vitamin A, these routine illnesses can quickly end a child’s life — GiveWell attributes over 200,000 child deaths to vitamin A deficiencies every year.
In many countries, vitamin A is a natural part of diets. But for many families living in poverty around the world vitamin A-rich foods are not part of their regular diets. Sometimes they’re not available, but more often they’re too expensive for families.
Helen Keller Intl reports that twice-yearly vitamin A supplementation for children between six months and five years old “can reduce child mortality by almost a quarter and help prevent blindness.”
A single capsule of vitamin A given to children twice a year for the first five years of their lives can save their sight and lives, for only a little more than $1 per dose. Helen Keller Intl reports that, in 2022 alone, it helped deliver over 60 million vitamin A capsules to children under five.
As part of its vitamin A supplementation (VAS) programme, Helen Keller Intl:
Helen Keller Intl's VAS programme is recommended by the impact-focused charity evaluator GiveWell, which we looked into as part of our 2023 evaluator investigations. We concluded that GiveWell’s recommendations are well-suited to helping donors maximise the impact of their “dollar” in the global health and wellbeing space. You can read our report on GiveWell here, and GiveWell’s extensive evaluation of Helen Keller Intl's VAS program, which highlights its cost-effectiveness, here.
Helen Keller Intl's VAS programme has been a GiveWell top charity since November 2017. Additionally, Open Philanthropy awarded a $9.7 million grant to Helen Keller Intl's VAS programme in 2020. Vitamin A supplementation has a strong evidence base, though GiveWell does express some uncertainty about current rates of Vitamin A deficiency in the areas Helen Keller Intl targets. Additionally, GiveWell supports Helen Keller Intl's mass distribution campaigns rather than its routine delivery programmes.