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UNICEF says Indonesia's decision to re-instate mandatory flour fortification decree provides better future for nation's mothers and children

JAKARTA, 25 July 2008 - UNICEF is praising the Government of Indonesia for its decision to re-instate the nation’s mandatory flour fortification decree.

“The decision will ensure that high risk groups including children and women of reproductive age will have access to fortified flour which provides much needed Iron, Zinc, Thiamine, Riboflavin, and folic acid”, said UNICEF Indonesia.

Flour fortification is part of a global initiative and has proven effective in Asia and the Americas in the reduction of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Regular consumption of fortified bread, noodles and other flour products can make the difference.

But a lack of proper nutrients can lead to a wide range of health issues including impaired mental and motor skill development, birth defects and anemia.

A 2004 report from UNICEF and the Micronutrient Initiative for 78 developing countries found that in addition to contributing to about 200 thousand deaths annually, economic losses due to just anemia in adult women totaled nearly $10 billion every year. In Indonesia, losses are estimated at $395 million dollars.

The cost of fortification is just pennies per metric ton.

In January this year the Ministry of Industry lifted the 2001 Decree on mandatory fortification of all wheat flour traded in Indonesia with the aim of reducing the price of flour in the market by allowing the importation of unfortified wheat flour.

On 14 July, the Ministry of Industry announced that the decree would be re-instated effective 14 August 2008.

The flour fortification program in Indonesia started in the early 80’s with a study on the feasibility of fortifying wheat flour. In 1998, the Ministry of Health issued the Decree on wheat flour fortification, directing the need and dosage of nutrients for fortifying wheat flour in Indonesia.

During the early stage of wheat flour fortification in Indonesia, UNICEF provided grants for premix and studies for fortification. Since then, UNICEF has continued to endorse the government policy on mandatory wheat flour fortification and recognizes Indonesia as a leader in this initiative within the region.

For further information contact: Ninik Sukotjo UNICEF Nutrition Specialist +628128192295




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