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A REPORT CARD ON NUTRITION: NUMBER 4, MAY 2006 View Previous Editions>

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Vitamin A for Myanmar
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Vitamin A is essential for immune system functions and the survival, growth and development of children. The provision of high-dose supplements every four to six months has a dramatic impact on the health of children aged 6–59 months, reducing the risk of mortality by up to 23 per cent.16

Vitamin A supplementation

Vitamin A supplementation

The overall coverage rate for vitamin A supplementation to children 6–59 months old in the developing world stood at 61 per cent in 2003. Coverage is higher than average (76 per cent) in the least-developed countries, where the need is inevitably greatest. South Asia has the lowest rate of supplementation, at 58 per cent, and East Asia/Pacific (excluding China) the highest, at 73 per cent. West/Central Africa has a coverage rate of 60 per cent, and Eastern/Southern Africa reaches 68 per cent of the children targeted. Data are insufficient to provide an overall coverage rate in CEE/CIS, Latin America/Caribbean and the Middle East/North Africa.17

Although many countries have not been able to assess the true level of vitamin A deficiency due to technical and financial constraints, an estimated 100 million to 140 million children are afflicted by this hidden hunger. Most of these children live in the least-developed areas of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.18 Recent estimates show that more than 43 million children in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of vitamin A deficiency.19

 

16  Beaton, et al., Effectiveness of Vitamin A Supplementation in the Control of Young Child Morbidity and Mortality in Developing Countries, ACC/SCN State of the Art Series, Nutrition Policy Paper No. 13, 1993.
17  Coverage rates of vitamin A supplementation are based on latest available estimates during 1998–2004.
18  United Nations Children’s Fund, ‘Vitamin A Supplementation: Progress for child survival’, Working Paper prepared by the Nutrition Section, UNICEF, New York, 2005.
19  Aguayo, Victor M., and Shawn K. Baker, ‘Vitamin A Deficiency and Child Survival in sub-Saharan Africa: A reappraisal of challenges and opportunities’, Food and Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 26, no. 4, 2005, pp. 348–355.