Flour fortification breakthrough in Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan receives US$2.8 million grant for Flour Fortification Project from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition.
Uzbekistan is the fourth country to obtain a grant for large-scale food fortification efforts from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). The three-year US$2.8 million grant agreement was signed in November 2004 between the Government of Uzbekistan and the World Bank, which serves as GAIN’s trust agent for project implementation.
Iron deficiency anemia affects over 60 per cent of women of childbearing age and a third of children under five years in Uzbekistan, according to recent damage assessment reports by UNICEF and the Micronutrient Initiative.
This places mothers at risk of complications and death during childbirth, and increases the number of babies born underweight, children who have learning difficulties, and workers with reduced energies.
GAIN Chairman Mr Jay Naidoo said “food fortification is a proven, cost effective way to improve health. Fortification of flour with iron and other micronutrients has been successful in countries such as Venezuela, the USA, UK, Canada, Sweden and Chile.
“By working with state and private millers and with consumer groups Uzbekistan is able to invest in healthier mothers, smarter school children and more productive workers, and reduce health care expenses for the state.”
The project would also help Uzbekistan’s efforts to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals of reduced poverty, improved maternal health and reduced child mortality.
The Ministry of Health, Joint Stock Company “Uzdonmahsulot” and other ministries and institutions will implement the project as part of a five year “National Flour Fortification Programme.” The project budget, including government and industry contribution, totals US$6 million, and aims to create the basis for long-term, sustainable flour fortification throughout the country.
The Programme builds upon an Asian Development Bank-funded pilot project - “Improving Nutrition of Poor Mothers and Children in Asian Countries in Transition” - which introduced fortification to 14 large, urban mills. The new project extends fortification efforts to mills using locally produced flour which is consumed by poorer households in Uzbekistan.
The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Health, as lead implementing agency, as well as by JSC “Uzdunmahsulot” and UNICEF. A Project Implementation Unit (PIU) has been established under the joint project implementation bureau of the Ministry of Health, to carry out daily management of project and to coordinate the different agencies involved. . The Bureau is also responsible for implementation of the World Bank’s Health II loan, and a parallel ADB Mother and Child healthcare project. The Health II loan also has a nutrition component, and the GAIN grant has been designed in a way to maximize complementarity between both. .
Project Manager Mr Ganijon Sarmanov said the project had four main components: the production and distribution of fortified flour, quality control, monitoring and impact assessment, and communications and marketing.
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