Although significant progress has been made in recent years in the area of nutrition, Azerbaijan still experiences high rates of iron-deficiency anaemia among women of reproductive age and children between the ages of 6 and 11 months — 38.2 per cent and 39.5 per cent respectively. The prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women is a key contributor to the nearly 1 in 10 children with low birth rates and an estimated 4.9 per cent of children aged under the age of five who are underweight.
Low breastfeeding rates are one of the key causes of poor health and nutrition among young children. Only 12 per cent of mothers in Azerbaijan exclusively breastfeed their children for the first six months, even though globally this is accepted as the most effective approach to the healthy development of a child in its earliest moments of life.
Advancements with flour fortification
Flour fortification is the act of adding nutrients such as iron and folic acid to flour. This simple, safe process has been proven to be the most effective and cost-efficient way to combat iron-deficiency anaemia. It has the potential to improve and even save the lives of hundreds of children in Azerbaijan every year.
UNICEF is supporting the Government of Azerbaijan to develop critical legislation that will make flour fortification mandatory, providing technical guidance on the process required and – most importantly – developing cost-benefit analyses to galvanize support among nutrition experts, flour producers, parliamentarians and budget decision-makers.