Regional Summit Promotes Flour Fortification to Improve Women and Children’s Health

PRESS RELEASE

Almaty, Kazakhstan, 3 April 2017 – Policy makers from four Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan – as well as from Afghanistan and Pakistan, gathered in Almaty today to discuss flour fortification as a way to improve the health of their populations.

“Fortifying flour with essential micronutrients is a sustainable, scalable, and cost-effective strategy for improving dietary health in areas where deficiencies exists. This is especially applicable in this region, where the primary source of food energy intake is wheat flour, most of which is not fortified,” said Dr. Jatinder Cheema, Mission Director, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/ Central Asia, welcoming participants to the meeting. Benefits include reductions in iron-deficiency anemia and neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Representatives from governments, national and international organizations, and the private sector came together to take the next steps towards establishing and/or enforcing mandatory wheat flour fortification in their countries. They shared achievements, challenges and lessons learned, reviewed guidelines for establishing a regional standard for flour fortification, and decided on how best to move flour fortification forward.

Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are the only countries in the region maximizing the potential of flour fortification.  Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have national fortification mandates, but compliance with legislation is low.  The remaining countries do not yet have flour fortification legislation.

The meeting was organized by USAID and GAIN, as well as the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, the Food Fortification Initiative, the United Nations Children’s Fund the Micronutrient Initiative, the World Food Programme, the Copenhagen Consensus, and the National Commission on Women’s Affairs and Family and Demographic Policy under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

For more information, please contact Greg S. Garrett, Director of Large Scale Food Fortification at GAIN on ggarrett@gainhealth.org or Elvira Zakirova, Program Management Assistant, USAID on +7 7772218674 on ezakirova@usaid.gov

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Find out more about Large Scale Food Fortification in the Central Asian Region