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Senegal has achieved close to universal coverage of vitamin A supplementation, reaching more than 90 per cent of children under the age of five with two doses annually.

This, along with other health and nutrition interventions, is helping the country meet the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty and reduce child mortality.

A pivotal figure in coordinating and sustaining these high levels of Vitamin A coverage achievement is Dr. Youssoupha Gaye, Head of Nutrition and Child Survival at the Ministry of Health.

Dr. Gaye is responsible for the development and implementation of child mortality reduction strategies, incorporating the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness and Integrated Package of Nutrition Activities programs.

“The vitamin A supplementation program is important for Senegal,” says Dr. Gaye. “As a developing nation, we have limited resources. Vitamin A is a simple intervention that provides a good return on investment.”

Dr. Gaye and his team are working with MI and other partners to institutionalize the vitamin A supplementation program.

“Vitamin A supplementation needs to be part of routine health services and we need to determine how we can best fund the program,” he explained. “We want to maintain our high coverage rates but the campaign style of delivery requires a lot of resources and is not financially viable. To this end, we are currently collaborating with MI on the development of a strategic plan for the future of vitamin A supplementation in Senegal that will enhance its sustainability through making it a properly funded component of routine health service delivery.”

In March 2009, Dr. Gaye welcomed officials from health ministries throughout Africa for the GAVA meeting, for a strong exchange of country experiences in vitamin A.

“For three days, we worked together with the goal of reducing child mortality in our countries with a simple, low-cost intervention,” said Dr Gaye.

Linked to its impressive micronutrient programming, Senegal has been chosen as the first African nation to host of the 2011 Micronutrient Forum and Dr. Gaye is already working hard to coordinate the preparations.