Presidential decree will improve nutritional status of children and women in TurkmenistanASHGABAT, 26 April 2006 – President Saparmurat Niyazov issued a decree mandating the fortification of wheat flour with iron and folic acid in Turkmenistan. The decree was signed on 24 April at the Presidential Palace.
Micronutrient deficiency, including anaemia, is one of the topics highlighted in UNICEF’s upcoming report card on global malnutrition ‘Progress for Children’, which will be launched on 2 May.
At the first meeting of the National Fortification Committee held today, Committee Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Gurbangully Berdymukhammedov issued a statement highlighting the President’s support of this initiative, which demonstrates high-level commitment to improving the well being of children and women in Turkmenistan. The Committee was established under Presidential decree and is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the flour fortification initiative.
UNICEF Representative Mahboob Shareef welcomed the decree and expressed gratitude to the Government for this crucial step towards reducing the level of iron deficiency anaemia and contributing to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals.
“The fact that the Government is willing to share the financial cost of this initiative is a strong testimony to its commitment to promote healthy lives among children and women in the country,” Shareef said.
Iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anaemia remain a problem, affecting the health of a significant number of women of childbearing age and young children in Turkmenistan. The 2000 Demographic Health Survey conducted in Turkmenistan showed that 47 per cent of women suffered from anaemia. In 2004, the Ministry of Health reported a steady reduction of anaemia prevalence in Balkan and Dashoguz Velayats, where a multi-component Anaemia Prevention and Control Programme supported by UNICEF has been implemented since 1998. A recent survey conducted in 2005 by the Maternal and Child Health Centre shows a 20 per cent decrease in anaemia prevalence rates in Dashoguz Velayats, where flour fortification has been piloted since 2000.
Flour fortification is one of the components of the Anaemia Prevention and Control Programme in Turkmenistan that UNICEF has been supporting through the Country Programme of Cooperation with the Government since 1997. For 2006, UNICEF allocated a total of $100,000 to support efforts for the prevention and control of anaemia.
Currently, 17 out of 21 large mills produce about 600,000 tonnes of wheat flour fortified with iron per year. This covers 82 per cent of all first-grade wheat flour and almost 50 per cent of all wheat flour available on the market. Given the amount of wheat consumption in Turkmenistan, the decree on fortification will certainly prevent the spread of anaemia among children and women and improve the overall nutrition situation in the country.
For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 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.
More information on UNICEF’s Nutrition Programme can be found at: http://www.unicef.org/nutrition/index.html
For further information, please contact:
Dr. Ayadil Saparbekov, UNICEF Health and Nutrition Officer
Ms. Gulyalek Soltanova, UNICEF Communication Officer
Phone: +99312 425681/82/86/86
Fax: +99312 420830