Europe: Training of Trainers Workshop

Europe is often viewed as a part of the world where vitamin and mineral deficiencies are not prevalent, yet certain countries in the region carry a burden at levels that deserve attention.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that “the burden of disease associated with poor nutrition continues to grow” in its European region, which includes Central Asia and the Caucasus. WHO found that micronutrient deficiencies in Europe are often caused by a diet low in fruit and vegetables.1 Changing a dietary pattern takes time and is often influenced by a number of different factors. Flour fortification is a largescale, relatively low-cost way to get people needed micronutrients in the short-term while dietary patterns are improved.

Photo: Annamurat Nazarov, left, explains the Turkmenistan approach to fortification to Ilgar Khidirov, a miller from Azerbaijan. Sarah Zimmerman/FFI
Photo: Annamurat Nazarov, left, explains the Turkmenistan approach to fortification to Ilgar Khidirov, a miller from Azerbaijan. Sarah Zimmerman/FFI

 

Eight Central Asian and Caucasus countries—Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan—are taking note. In coordination with the Food Safety Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), FFI led a five-day training of trainers workshop where country representatives developed skills in planning, implementing, and monitoring wheat flour fortification.

Five of the eight countries have wheat flour fortification mandates, but only Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have been able to reach the majority of their population. The remaining three countries (Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ukraine) are at different stages of developing national food fortification programs. Several times during the workshop, countries with established programs were paired with those without established programs. This allowed experienced fortification stakeholders the opportunity to share knowledge and gain experience as fortification trainers.

Photo: Touring a flour mill provides insight into the flour fortification process. Sarah Zimmerman/FFI
Photo: Touring a flour mill provides insight into the flour fortification process. Sarah Zimmerman/FFI

 

At the end of the training, each country developed a flour fortification action plan for the next six to 12 months with commitments to advance effective flour fortification in their countries. Strengthened by a common purpose and equipped with tools from the training, the countries aim to drastically reduce iron-deficiency anemia and neural tube defects. With FFI’s assistance, Europe is on the fast-track to a healthier future.

 

1. World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. Health Topics. Nutrition. http://www. euro.who.int/en/ health- topics/diseaseprevention/nutrition. Accessed 30 Sept 2019.