Fortification Takes Major Step Forward in West Africa
Dakar, Senegal - Benin and Togo recently celebrated the official launch of food fortification efforts in both of their countries, joining neighboring countries Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire and Mali, which already have efforts underway.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are highly prevalent in West Africa, especially for children under five years old and pregnant and lactating women. These deficiencies negatively impact the health and survival of women and children, and often lead to anemia, diarrhea, and blindness-related diseases. Fortification of common food staples with micronutrients, which is commonplace in industrialized countries, is a key strategy to control micronutrient malnutrition and improve maternal and child survival.
Both Togo and Benin began vitamin A fortification of cooking oil and iron fortification of wheat flour in mid-to-late 2009. The official ceremonies held in early December 2009 promoted these efforts to the broader population, and marked the launch of a major regional and national social marketing campaign throughout the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA) region. They also celebrated recent accomplishments as well as strengthened existing public-private partnerships. These events represent a significant milestone in the Fortify West Africa initiative led by HKI.