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Ottawa, CANADA – Nutrition International, with funding from Quantedge Advancement Initiative, has launched a two-year initiative called Bridging the Fortification Gap in the Philippines (BFGP). The project aims to improve the dietary quality and micronutrient status of women, adolescent girls and children under five years in the Philippines. This will be achieved by working alongside the National Nutrition Council of the Philippines, Food Fortification Initiative and Iodine Global Network to create an enabling environment for improvement in policies on wheat flour fortification and universal salt iodization.

The project, initiated in 2023 and scheduled to run until October 2025, aims to improve the existing national standard on wheat flour fortification. This revision proposes the inclusion of folic acid and replacement of the current iron compound with a more bioavailable form, aligning with World Health Organization recommendation. Additionally, the project seeks to build the capacity of the Government of the Philippines to enforce the national standard, as well as call for mandatory iodization of food-grade salt at the national level.

“Large-scale food fortification is an evidence-informed, cost-effective approach to address relevant micronutrient deficiencies at the population level,” said Kristin Hall, Global Portfolio Director for Large-Scale Food Fortification, Nutrition International. “It is especially important in countries where access to a diverse and varied diet is out of reach.”

Ensuring that women have adequate folic acid intake before conception improves their nutritional status, reduces their risk of maternal anaemia and reduce the number of neural tube defect (NTD) affected pregnancies.

Iodine is an essential micronutrient that is critical for optimal brain development, particularly during fetal development and early childhood stages. Despite this, only 36% of Filipino households consume adequately iodized salt and the median urinary iodine concentration of vulnerable population groups like pregnant and lactating women is lower than recommended.  To combat this, in 2023 the Philippines Salt Industry Development Act was enacted, exempting domestically produced salt from mandatory iodization.

Nutrition International has been working with the Government of the Philippines through the Department of Health, the National Nutrition Council and other partners to strengthen the country’s health and nutrition programs to improve the life of women and children since 2016.

Learn more about the project and our work in the Philippines