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National

August 11, 2018
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Salt fortification can fulfill iodine intake needs if standards are met: FACT survey

National

August 11, 2018

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Islamabad: Salt fortification could fulfill iodine intake requirements among young children and women if all products are fortified according to standards. However, households not consuming fortified iodized salt (i.e. 25% in Punjab, 16% in Balochistan) need to be reached.

This is one of the findings of the Fortification Assessment Coverage Toolkit (FACT) survey, which was disseminated Friday at a seminar organised by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, with support from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) along with Oxford Policy Management. The survey has helped determine the coverage and likely contribution of fortified foods to micronutrient intake among women of reproductive age (aged 15-49 years) and children under five.

Presenting the key results of FACT Survey, Valerie Friesen, Technical Specialist of GAINinformedthat oil/ghee fortification could have a large impact on Vitamin A intake among young children and women. However, for this to occur,all products need to be fortified according to standards. Moreover, she added that potential impact of fortified wheat flour is limited as the contribution of flour mill ‘ataa’ in the production of flour is much less than the total requirement, for which other sources of flour like ‘chakkies’ will have to be explored.

Muhammad Aslam Shaheen, Chief of Nutritionat the Ministry of Planning and SUN Focal Personsaid the survey will helpdocument the accomplishments of ongoing food fortification programmes in the country, identify potential barriers, provide a baseline for future food fortification programmes, guide the current Food Fortification Programmeand help to refine project interventions in the light of information received from both the service providers and end users. “The FACT Survey provides representative data both at the national and provincial levels and shares information of high-risk populations including women of reproductive age and children in Pakistan,” he stated.

Dr. BaseerAchakzai, Director Nutrition at the Ministry of Health maintained that while fortification of salt and oil/ghee could have a large impact on the intakes of Iodine and Vitamin A among young children and women of reproductive age in Balochistan, Punjab, and Sindh, all products would need to be fortified in compliance with the fortification standard. Currently, most products are fortified below standards which calls for efforts to increase compliance at the production level.

Dr. Qaiser Pasha, country Director of GAIN said, this is the 16th FACT Surveys carried out by GAIN. He hoped that the evidence thus generated will be used to improve ground implementation.Abdul Rehman from USAID assured that USAID would continue its support in the future as well while Cecilia Garzon from UNICEF said evidence is the only way to change our mode of work. Representatives from the provinces termed the survey as a good initiative that provides firsthand information on important indicators that will be used in future programmes.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Azeem Khan, Member Food Security and Climate Change, Planning Commission shared fortification programmes are the most relevant initiative to meet micronutrient deficiencies in the short term in a cost effective way.He suggested that the provincial governments can sign MoU’s with industries to improve fortification coverage, and assured that the survey’s findings will be incorporated in the 12th five-year plan to overcome malnutrition.

The event was attended by government representatives, SUN focal points from all provinces, international donor and development agencies, UN agencies, INGOs, civil society organisations and media persons.

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