Sometimes Food is Not Enough
The causes of vitamin and mineral deficiencies are multiple, as well as interconnected.
At the most basic level, the problem is related to diet and access to sufficient amounts of nutrient-rich foods. The problem is made worse by inadequate health care and sanitation, diseases, and a lack of education in infant and child care.
Improving the diets of the world’s poor is a complex and long-term undertaking that is largely dependent on rising incomes, improved access to food, better health and nutrition services delivery and more. In the short term, however, many lives are saved and improved through supplementation.
The Copenhagen Consensus continuously ranks micronutrient supplements as a top development priority to improve global child survival rates. At low cost, micronutrient supplements provide a simple and basic solution that saves and improves lives.
We work with governments and agencies in the world’s poorest nations to deliver key micronutrients the human body needs to survive and prevent disease. Our supplementation programs include vitamin A and zinc for child survival; and iron, folic acid and calcium for maternal and newborn survival and health.
Working with country governments and key stakeholders, we integrate our micronutrient interventions to fit the needs of a person throughout their life – across the “continuum of care” – and help to strengthening the system as a whole.
This means that when a mother brings her child to a health care worker for diarrhoea treatment, she can leave with zinc supplements and oral rehydration salts, a proven cost-effective treatment. When a mother brings her young child to local Child Health Days or visits a health post as part of a routine visit, she is ensured that her child will receive a dose of vitamin A – via a little red capsule – to boost the immune system.
Nutrition at Risk in Emergencies
People are at their most vulnerable during a humanitarian crisis.
Food crops are often lost or people are displaced from their land. Normal methods of food distribution and supply, such as local markets, are disrupted. Poor water supply increases diarrhoeal disease, which leads to poor absorption of nutrients and nutrient loss. And crowded living conditions increase the spread of infectious disease.
Providing adequate micronutrients to people through emergency relief efforts is a great challenge.
Nutrition International is a key partner of the world’s leading relief agencies. We provide policy guidance at the highest international level, including an adequate supply of vitamin A for use during emergencies.