FFI Newsletter June 2017
Cameroon Reports Improvements in Four Nutrients
Cameroon’s national, mandatory wheat flour fortification program led to an improvement in iron, zinc, folate, and vitamin B12 status among women and children in urban areas, according to a study recently published in The Journal of Nutrition. Maternal anemia prevalence was also significantly lower after fortification.
While fortifying flour with vitamin B12 has been shown to have an impact in controlled settings, this is the first evidence that fortifying wheat flour with vitamin B12 is effective in a mandatory, national program. It is only the second effectiveness study of fortifying wheat flour with zinc in a country with mandatory wheat flour fortification. The first was in Fiji where the percent of women of child-bearing age with zinc deficiency dropped from 39.3% before fortification to 0% after fortification.
For the Cameroon study, researchers conducted surveys two years before and one year after fortification began. Indicators of inflammation and malaria were included.
What Makes Fortification Successful?
- An influential individual supported fortification
- An institution with research capacity helped monitor impact
- Food industry participation was essential
- Programs were well-designed, including choice of food(s) that would reach the vulnerable population
- Fortification was mandatory nationwide
- Bioavailable fortificants were used at appropriate levels
- Monitoring to ensure compliance was enforced
Industrially Milled Flour Entering Rural Pakistan
Did you see the story about fortification reaching the poorest of the urban poor, even those who shop at informal markets? Our partners at Nutrition International have added the following observations from Pakistan to the comments in that story.
Rural people in Pakistan are relying more on industrially milled flour, said Tausif Akhtar Janjua, Technical Director for the Food Fortification Program in Pakistan. Traditionally people in rural areas stored wheat at home and had it milled in village chakki mills where fortification is difficult to sustain. Now they are purchasing more industrially milled flour because it is less expensive than chakki-milled flour, he noted.
Noor Ahmad Khan, Nutrition International Senior Technical Advisor, Nutrition in Food Systems, agreed that industrially milled flour is entering the rural markets in Pakistan. He said the volume of flour produced in chakki mills has decreased in the past 10 to 15 years. In addition to cost savings, Noor said bakers prefer industrially milled flour because it kneads and bakes better than chakki-milled flour.
If the Pakistan example becomes common in other areas, fortification of industrially milled flour will have the potential to reach the rural population as well as urban residents.
Pakistan photo @Flickr Creative Commons
Improving Nutrition: Solution with High Return on Investment
Balance the budget. Improve national security. Limit unemployment. Build infrastructure. These are examples of challenges that demand the attention of country leaders. Rather than focusing on problems though, Bjorn Lomborg, Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, suggested looking for the smartest solutions.
“We can’t do everything; there’s not enough money or time,” Bjorn said during a Regional Summit for Improving the Health of Women and Children Through Flour Fortification in Kazakhstan earlier this year. His advice is to look for solutions that yield the best return on investment. For example, improving nutrition will have a cost, but he said the benefits of better academic performance, more productivity, and higher future salaries make it one of the smartest solutions available.
In a review of the World Bank report An Investment Framework for Nutrition, authors made the same argument. They noted that investing $10 per child per year above current spending for nutrition-specific interventions would have ‘enormous impacts’ including:
- 65 million cases of childhood stunting prevented in 2025
- 265 million cases of anemia in women prevented in 2025
- 91 million more children under five years of age would be treated for severe wasting
- 105 million additional babies would be exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life
- 3.7 million child deaths averted in 2025
“Every dollar invested in this package of interventions would yield between $4 and $35 in economic returns, making investing in early nutrition one of the best value-for-money development actions,” the authors wrote.
The cost effectiveness of flour fortification in particular was illustrated in Haiti when a research project called Haïti Priorise commissioned cost-benefit researcher papers to suggest the best way for the country to expand its economy. A panel of three Haitian economists and a US Nobel laureate economist considered 85 proposals and interviewed the authors. The panel determined that the government’s first priority should be to reform the electricity utility. The second top priority should be to fortify wheat flour. The research was funded by the Canadian government and led by the Copenhagen Consensus Center.
The Haiti example is consistent with the 2012 Copenhagen Consensus global findings. That report found that every dollar spent on multiple interventions to reduce chronic under-nutrition has a $30 payoff.
We created a two-page document to summarize the costs of iron deficiency and insufficient folic acid in a population. Download the summary document and see more details on fortification’s return on investment on the FFI website.
Pakistan and Mongolia Move Toward Wheat Flour Fortification
In April, 117 participants from eight countries – Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan – made pledges to improve their wheat flour fortification programs. While their first commitment was not expected to be complete for six months, Pakistan and Mongolia already report progress toward their goals.
The commitments were made during a Regional Summit for Improving the Health of Women and Children Through Flour Fortification held in Almaty Kazakhstan. The event was funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and co-hosted by the Government of Kazakhstan and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). FFI was a core organizer, along with the Copenhagen Consensus, International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, Nutrition International, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Food Programme.
Participants at the Regional Summit for Improving the
Health of Women and Children Through Flour Fortification in April 2017
At the conclusion of the Summit, country leaders were asked to identify two actions they could take to improve wheat flour fortification programs. When asked for progress a month later, Pakistan reported that it had launched its Food Fortification Strategy on 13 April 2017 with WFP support. The Pakistan Food Fortification Program is currently engaging with relevant departments of National and Provincial Governments to create enabling environments for wheat flour fortification, said Tausif Akhtar Janjua, Technical Director for the Food Fortification Support Program in Pakistan. He added that implementation is expected to begin soon in Punjab Province. This support program is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and implemented by Mott MacDonald in partnership with Nutrition International. Additional support is provided by WFP and GAIN.
A long-term goal in Pakistan is to create a sustainable supply for premix – the blend of vitamins and minerals that is used to fortify food. A competitive process will result in a memorandum of understandings for premix for wheat flour and edible oils. “As a result of this exercise, millers will get premix at their doorstep at a price less than the current market rates,” Tausif said.
Also World Grain reported that Bühler will supply more than 1,000 micro-feeders to the wheat flour mills in Pakistan. This will allow about half the mills in Pakistan to add iron, folic acid, vitamin B12, and zinc to wheat flour.
In addition, the fortification of edible oil and ghee (a hydrogenated form of edible oil), formally started in districts of Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad in May 2017.
Also at the Summit, a representative from the Mongolian Health Initiative, a non-governmental organization (NGO) advising the government on large-scale fortification, committed to sharing lessons learned during a national workshop in Mongolia. That workshop was the Central Eurasian Nutrition Forum held 7-9 June 2017.
Leaders from Kazakhstan and Tajikistan who had attended the Summit in Almaty spoke at the Mongolia meeting about nutrition and public health, the role of the flour milling industry, international organizations’ involvement in nutrition, and progress on large-scale fortification legislation and action in Central Eurasia.
Invited guests and experts discussed with local delegates from the Mongolian government and other sectors about the scientific and policy aspects of improving nutrition, implementing large-scale fortification, and opportunities for international partnership. At the conclusion of the conference, a declaration was assigned by the conference participants to resolve to work together on a set of short- and long-term goals related to regional nutrition research and advocacy.
Panelists at the Central Eurasian Nutrition Forum in Mongolia.
Of the countries represented at the Summit, Turkmenistan is the only country that is fortifying most of its industrially milled flour. Consequently, its goal is to improve its monitoring system by using a tool called FORTIMAS (Fortification Monitoring and Surveillance). Also, Turkmenistan currently fortifies with iron and folic acid. Within 12 months, the country will study whether to add other nutrients to its flour fortification standards.
Other country commitments made during the Summit were:
- Afghanistan will finalize wheat flour fortification legislation within six months – possibly in just two months. It will also ensure that at least 30% of wheat flour imports are fortified.
- Azerbaijan will organize a multi-sector round-table discussion within six months to renew efforts to fortify wheat flour. Within one year, it will study the experiences of countries which have had positive experiences with flour fortification.
- Kazakhstan will be ready to export wheat flour according to regionally harmonized standards within six months. Within a year, it hopes to find financial support for fortification.
- Kyrgyzstan will create a plan for procuring wheat flour fortification premix within six months; leaders from GAIN plan to visit Kyrgyzstan in July to establish a revolving fund for premix purchases. Within 12 months, the country will have involved more stakeholders in fortification discussions to work toward gaining political and public support.
- Tajikistan’s flour fortification law is being reviewed by parliament. Hopefully the law will be passed within six months. After that, national leaders will create an awareness campaign for the public and plan internal and external monitoring programs.
We will report country progress toward these goals in upcoming newsletters.
Welcome to New EMT Members
Join us in welcoming three new members to our Executive Management Team (EMT) which provides strategic direction to our work. The members represent the public, private, and civic network at the heart of our work.
Douglas Dunlay, right, Vice President Worldwide Grain Operations Manager at Cargill, Inc., will replace Jule Taylor who retired from Cargill as Vice President for Corporate Plant Operations.
Doug received his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Economics at the University of Missouri in 1984 and joined Cargill in 1985 as a production supervisor/trainee in Tampa, Florida. His positions at Cargill have included Production Supervisor at Reserve, Louisiana; Sector Superintendent at Sikeston, Missouri; Plant Superintendent in Portland, Oregon; and Leader for U.S. Grain Operations.
Doug is member of the Grain and Elevator Processing Society (GEAPS) and past member of GEAPS international board of directors. He currently serves on the board of directors for the non-profit organization Compatible Technology International.
The National Foundation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Inc. (CDC Foundation) will now be an EMT member, represented by Judith Monroe, right, President and CEO. The CDC Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) public charity and serves as the grant administrator for most financial contributions to FFI.
Judy received her medical degree from the University of Maryland and began her clinical career in rural Tennessee. She joined the CDC Foundation as President and CEO in February 2016. She previously worked for six years as the CDC Director of the Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support (OSTLTS). In that role, Judy oversaw key activities and technical assistance that supported the nation’s health departments and the public health system.
Before joining CDC, Judy served as the state health commissioner for Indiana; she is also past president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO).
Walter von Reding, right, Head Grain Milling Flour Service at Bühler AG, will represent this private-sector partner. He replaces Peter Böhni who represented Bühler on the EMT for 10 years before moing to a new role with Bühler where
Walter has worked with Bühler since 1990, starting as head of the speciality ingredients, Emmi Group. He has also worked in product development and quality, food ingredients, new technology and content, strategy, and innovation with health and nutrition projects.
Walter has a masters degree in business administration with a focus on business ethics and leadership as well as a masters of science degree in innovation, strategy, and new technology. He has also studied food engineering.
Inflammation and Nutritional Determinants of Anemia
The June issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has a series of papers about biomarkers reflecting inflammation and nutritional determinants of anemia. This project, known as BRINDA, refines approaches to interpret iron and vitamin A biomarker values in settings of inflammation and malaria infection. Findings can inform guidelines and strategies to prevent and control vitamin and mineral deficiencies and anemia globally.
The papers are all available online as linked below:
- Adjusting Ferritin Concentrations for Inflammation
- Adjusting Retinol-Binding Protein Concentrations for Inflammation
- Adjusting Soluble Transferrin Receptor Concentrations for Inflammation
- Adjusting Total Body Iron for Inflammation
- Factors Associated with Inflammation in Preschool Children and Women of Reproductive Age
- Methodologic Approach for the Biomarkers Reflecting Inflammation and Nutritional Determinants of Anemia (BRINDA) Project
- Overview of the Biomarkers Reflecting Inflammation and Nutritional Determinants of Anemia (BRINDA) Project
- Predictors of Anemia in Preschool Children
- Predictors of Anemia in Women of Reproductive Age
- Research, Policy, and Programmatic Considerations
Mapping and Tracking Global Food Fortification Efforts
A new online tool called the Global Fortification Data Exchange (GFDx) will soon be available with legislation status and standards for fortification of maize flour, oil, rice, salt, and wheat flour. Data on food availability and intake will also be included. The GFDx is scheduled to be released later this year.
The GFDx will provide data and analytics to guide decision makers in establishing effective food fortification programs and policies. The platform includes a rich set of user-friendly tools that support exploration, comparison, and sharing of global fortification data.
The GFDx was created in response to a call for improved data availability and quality issued during the 2015 Global Summit on Food Fortification in Arusha, Tanzania. A core group was formed in March 2016 with representatives from the Food Fortification Initiative (FFI), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Iodine Global Network (IGN), and the Micronutrient Forum (MNF).
Follow our social media to know when the Exchange is available.
FFI Newsletter June 2017 Table of Contents
- Cameroon Reports Improvements in Four Nutrients
- What Makes Fortification Successful?
- Industrially Milled Flour Entering Rural Pakistan
- Improving Nutrition: Solution with High Return on Investment
- Pakistan and Mongolia Move Toward Wheat Flour Fortification
- Welcome to New EMT Members
- Inflammation and Nutritional Determinants of Anemia
- Mapping and Tracking Global Food Fortification Efforts
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