Azerbaijan receives 54,000 boxes of iron and folic acid supplements
UNICEF supports maternal and early child health with provision of folic acid and iron supplements
Through a partnership between UNICEF and the State Agency for Mandatory Health Insurance (SAMHI), 54,000 boxes of iron and folic acid supplements were delivered to Azerbaijan in Baku. UNICEF Health and Nutrition Specialist Tohfa Jamilova and the Head of the International Cooperation Department of SAMHI Ruslan Abdullayev attended the delivery of the packages.
The early moments of a child’s life are the most crucial period for development, beginning in the womb during pregnancy. While the brain requires all forms of nutrients for growth, certain nutrients such as iron, zinc, and folates, are particularly critical. Iron is especially essential at specific times of brain growth to ensure full developmental potential.
Folic acid deficiency can in turn lead to neural tube defects in a baby which can mean severe life-long disability or death in early childhood. Pregnancy anaemia, on the other hand, remains one of the main risk factors for pregnant women in Azerbaijan. One of the leading consequences of anaemia may include pregnancy complications such as haemorrhages/bleedings, miscarriages, complicated labour and even maternal death, low birth weight, increased neonatal death risks, and impaired physical and intellectual development. UNICEF and WHO recommend folic acid supplements (starting as early as 3 months before planned pregnancy) to every woman of reproductive age, as well as a preventive dose of iron. This recommendation is supported by national clinical protocols in Azerbaijan as part of the antenatal care and prevention of iron-deficiency anaemia among pregnant women.
Based on the agreement between UNICEF and SAMHI iron-folic acid supplements will be distributed throughout 2021 to all pregnant women registered through their local primary healthcare facility within the first trimester of pregnancy. Starting from 2022 SAMHI has committed to including these supplements into the primary healthcare insurance packages for pregnant women and fund their procurement from the insurance budget.