UNICEF Turkmenistan Welcomes Decree Boosting Wheat Flour Fortification.
Presidential decree will improve nutritional status of children and women in Turkmenistan.
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 26 April 2006 – President Saparmurat Niyazov issued a decree mandating the fortification of wheat flour with iron and folic acid of Turkmenistan on 24 April at the Presidential Palace.
At the first meeting of the National Fortification Committee held today, Committee Chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Gurbangully Berdymukhammedov issued a statement highlighting the President’s support to this initiative which demonstrates the high-level commitment to improving the well-being of children and women in Turkmenistan. The Committee is established under the 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 taking this crucial step towards reducing the level of iron deficiency anemia and contributing to the achievement of the 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,” Mr. Shareef said.
Iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia 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 (DHS) conducted in Turkmenistan showed that 47 per cent of women suffered from anemia. In 2004, the Ministry of Health reported a steady reduction of anaemia prevalence in Balkan and Dashoguz Velayats where a multi-component UNICEF-supported Anemia Prevention and Control (APC) Programme has been implemented since 1998. A recent survey conducted in 2005 by the Maternal and Child Health Centre shows decrease in anemia prevalence rates by 20 per cent in Dashoguz velayat where flour fortification has been piloted since 2000.
Flour fortification is one of the components of the Anemia 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 anemia.
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 in the market. Given the amount of wheat consumption in Turkmenistan, the decree on fortification will certainly prevent spread of anemia among children and women and improve the overall nutrition situation in the country.
More information on UNICEF’s Nutrition Programme can be found here.
For further information, please contact
Ms. Gulyalek Soltanova, UNICEF Communication Officer