Nutrition International

Impacting Generations: The Transformative Power of Large-Scale Food Fortification Highly Ranked

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

What if one simple intervention could have a transformative impact on future generations, significantly reducing the global incidence of two of the most widespread and devastating micronutrient deficiencies? Food fortification has this power. Simply adding iron and folic acid to wheat flour and rice significantly reduces cases of anemia and birth defects like spina bifida/anencephaly ? which force billions of vulnerable people to the sidelines, and are holding the world back from achieving global targets. It’s cost-effective and proven. Yet it’s not currently happening where it’s needed most. We propose to support countries with the highest burden of anemia and birth defects to implement large-scale food fortification, which will significantly cut global prevalence of spina bifida, and of anemia. We will reach 700 million people, preventing over 150,000 cases of spina bifida and over 50 million cases of anemia. By 2030, we will improve the lives of 2.2 billion people.

Problem Statement

Globally, over two billion people are not getting the micronutrients (vitamins/minerals) they need to survive and thrive. This includes iron and folate (naturally occurring form of vitamin B9) – two of the most crucial nutrients for human development. Having a poor diet or limited access to nutritious foods is the most common reason for this inadequacy. Insufficient iron leads to anemia, the most wide-spread micronutrient disorder, affecting nearly 1.6 billion people, including 500 million women of reproductive age. It impairs cognitive and motor development, causes fatigue and low productivity, and contributes to increased risk of death for a mother and her baby during pregnancy.An insufficient folate status before and during the early stages of pregnancy can result in birth defects like spina bifida/anencephaly, which affects an estimated 260,000 pregnancies annually, resulting in still-births and under-five deaths. Children who survive face lifelong disabilities. The most cost-effective solution to this unfair burden is large-scale food fortification with iron and folic acid; but mandatory food fortification is not implemented in countries with the highest need, thus missing the opportunity to avert up to 82% of cases of spina bifida, and reduce anemia by 34%.We propose to scale an intervention with a high return on investment. Supporting countries with the highest burden of these deficiencies to implement large-scale food fortification will reduce preventable deaths and contribute to gains in productivity. This solution will not only save lives but increase human capital in some of the least developed countries around the world

Solution Overview

We will empower countries with high burdens of iron and folate deficiencies to implement large-scale food fortification ? helping governments put in place the policies and infrastructure needed to give people access to proper nutrition, as well as setting up monitoring and evaluation systems for sustained and effective food fortification programs. Food fortification will not only contribute to improving the health of present and future generations in these countries, but also help accelerate progress towards global targets, many of which are off track. The team’s experience in promoting and supporting fortification interventions will ensure that programs under this grant are correctly designed, delivered, and tracked. By supporting eight countries with the highest burden of spina bifida/anencephaly and anemia, we will reach over 700 million people and prevent over 150,000 cases of spina bifida, and 50 million cases of anemia among women of reproductive age within five years. Fortification will be sustained and the reach and prevention will continue even after the five-year grant period – and lead to a further three-fold increase in reach and impact by 2030. Ultimately, we will affect the lives of 2.2. Billion people. Those most vulnerable – the poor – will benefit.Knowledge and evidence generated during our project will help to strengthen and scale food fortification globally, inspiring other countries to implement this live-saving intervention.

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