Bringing Better Food to Millions
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause premature death, disability, and reduced work capacity in many parts of the world. The World Health Organization estimates that about 38% of pregnant women and just over 40% of pre-school children in the developing world are anemic. The consequences are dire: pregnancy complications, increased risk of maternal death, and delayed mental and physical development in children. While the practice of fortifying staple foods like wheat flour and cooking oil has been common in the United States and other counties for nearly a century, most African counties remain far behind in this area, leaving impoverished families with little access to nutrient-rich diets.
Through collaborations with government and private sector partners, Helen Keller International is able to reach more than 290 million people in 19 countries across Africa with vitamin A fortified cooking oil and iron folate fortified wheat flour. Our large-scale food fortification initiatives provide technical assistance to national health ministries and local food companies to ensure these highly consumed products are enriched with essential nutrients such as vitamin A, iron and folic acid, while assuring the highest standards in food safety and quality. We also work to keep these products inexpensive and produce extensive campaigns to promote them to families in need.
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." — Helen Keller
With more than a decade of advocacy, practice and research in this area, we now also have food fortification programs in East Africa and continue to explore opportunities to reach even more people as part of our mission to combat the causes and consequences of malnutrition.
Helen Keller International Participation at the 2015 Global Summit on Food Fortification, Arusha, Tanzania
HKI is proud to have been among the esteemed co-conveners of the Global Summit on Food Fortification, which took place in Tanzania September 9-11, 2015. This three-day event was attended by 450 delegates from 57 countries all dedicated to reinvigorating interest, awareness and investment in food fortification for developing nations. King Letsie III of Lesotho (the African Union Nutrition Champion), Tanzanian Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, and many other Ministers of Health and high-level policy makers, advocates, academics, funders, and NGOs presented in-depth analysis, impact assessments, and case studies on the potential and promise of moving forward with a global food fortification agenda. Read the resulting Arusha Statement on Food Fortification delivered at the close of the event by H.E. Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union.