Government, Public Health and Industry Leaders Meet to Discuss Flour Fortification in Armenia
The group committed to supporting efforts towards the implementation of mandatory national fortification of wheat flour in Armenia.
YEREVAN, 3 June 2008 -- Fortifying flour with iron, folic acid and other essential vitamins and minerals could have a marked impact on improving maternal health, reducing birth defects such as spina bifida and improving work productivity and boosting national economic gains of those living in Armenia, according to public health and nutrition experts who met in Yerevan last week.
“Approximately 25% of women and 37% of children under five in Armenia suffer from mild or moderate anemia,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative in Armenia. “Vitamin and mineral deficiency impairs learning capacity and school performance. Flour fortification is an effective, low cost and sustainable intervention to help address these deficiencies.
“This is an important health issue that can be resolved with minimum resources,” said Deputy Minister of Health Tatul Hakobyan. “We will do everything possible to use our resources and work with our partners to roll this out.”
More than two billion people, one in three persons worldwide suffer from micronutrient deficiency, a form of malnutrition”, said Lola Castro, Country Director of WFP in Armenia, where WFP, in collaboration with the Government, provides food assistance to 45,000 of the most vulnerable and food-insecure groups of the population. “Faced with an unprecedented increase in food prices, vulnerable households are reducing the number of daily meals or are cutting down on nutritious food such as meat and dairy products – surviving mainly on bread. Therefore, it is essential that the bread they eat be made of fortified wheat flour to help make up as much as possible for the lost nutrients,” Lola Castro said.
The national round table meeting supported by UNICEF and WFP was attended by representatives from several Ministries including Health, Agriculture, Economy and the National Assembly. In addition,representatives from the flour milling industry, consumer organizations, and UN and donor agencies also attended the roundtable to discuss the micronutrient malnutrition in Armenia, and flour fortification as an effective, proven, low cost, sustainable intervention.
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: this year, WFP plans to feed more than 70 million people in around 80 countries.
For more information, please contact:
Emil Sahakyan, UNICEF Armenia Communication Officer
Tel.: (374 10) 52 35 46