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Nearly 100 million Bangladeshis to benefit from more nutritious vegetable oil

Dhaka, Bangladesh, 9 February 2012: GAIN – the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition – and UNICEF today announced a major multi-sector partnership that will reach an estimated 100 million Bangladeshis with vitamin A fortified vegetable oil.

The launching ceremony was attended by the private sector, trade and chamber bodies, international organizations and civil society. The People’s Republic of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Industries, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute and the Institute of Public Health and Nutrition were present at the event, as key national partners leading the effort.

An estimated 22 per cent of pre-school age children in Bangladesh suffer from vitamin A deficiency# which is the leading cause of blindness in children. Vitamin A deficiency also diminishes a child’s ability to fight infections, especially from diarrhoea and measles. Globally, an estimated seven per cent pregnant women suffer from night blindness as a result of a lack of vitamin A in their diets.#

The three year programme, which began in February 2010, aims to reduce Vitamin A deficiency among women and children through increased market access to the more nutritious oil.

UNICEF Representative Pascal Villeneuve said: “Food fortification is one of the most cost effective means to reach populations with essential vitamins. Fortification of edible oil with vitamin A will be a landmark event for Bangladesh to combat vitamin A deficiency in large populations of poor communities in an efficient way”. He also added that UNICEF has been supporting the Government of Bangladesh for a long time with prevention and control of micronutrient deficiencies and will continue to strengthen efforts.

“GAIN congratulates the Government of Bangladesh, private sector partners and civil society organizations for taking on this effort to provide the population with access to more nutritious food,” said Marc Van Ameringen, Executive Director of GAIN. “We have a lot more work to do to include other commodities and products under food fortification and ensure that the most marginalized people in Bangladesh reap the nutritional benefits.”

The buy-in of leading national certified vegetable oil producers and refineries is key to the success of the project. To date, seven vegetable oil refineries have started production of fortified edible oil. The goal is to get more than a dozen on board.

The grant supported by GAIN and UNICEF will provide vegetable oil refineries with the equipment, nutrients, robust quality control capacity and training necessary to produce the best possible fortified vegetable oil. The partnership is also providing technical support for measuring the project’s impact on people’s health, developing a logo identifying fortified food, rolling out a campaign to educate consumers about the importance of good nutrition to build demand for fortified edible oils; as well as ensuring that appropriate standards are in place for vitamin A in vegetable oil.

The initiative will complement the national vitamin A supplementation strategy and other strategies to address micronutrient deficiencies to reach more children and mothers.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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.

About GAIN in Bangladesh

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an alliance driven by the vision of a world without malnutrition. GAIN contributes to the fight against malnutrition in Bangladesh through innovative cross sector partnerships that can bring impact at scale. More than 100 million vulnerable people across Bangladesh will benefit from high quality nutritious foods through GAIN-supported programs: Programming areas include: large scale food fortification; agriculture and nutrition; nutrition targeted at children and mothers (critical 1,000 days from conception to age two); school feeding; and building policy environments supportive of good nutrition. For more information, please visit: http://www.gainhealth.org/

Media Contacts:

GAIN Bangladesh Country Manager, Basanta Kar, Tel: +880-1719400229 Email:bkar@gainhealth.org

UNICEF Bangladesh, Iftikhar Ahmed Chowdhury, Communication Officer, Tel: 880 2 8852266, Ext: 7028, Email: iachowdhury@unicef.org

         

 

 

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