U.S.-based Fortify and Nigeria-based Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) have announced a formal partnership to address iron deficiency, the major underlying cause of maternal deaths during childbirth in developing countries.
Iron deficiency is the most widespread public health disorder in the world, affecting at least one-third of the global population.
In the absence of adequate interventions, Fortify works to drive innovation in the private sector, guiding companies to add iron to everyday meals through the fortification of simple, healthy foods consumed by most families.
The World Bank and the Copenhagen Consensus have both ranked food fortification as one of the best investments in development in terms of cost effectiveness.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food-based approaches represent the most desirable and sustainable method of preventing micronutrient malnutrition.
A statement issued by the company said Fortify’s efforts with leading food producers have already resulted in the monthly production of 20 million sachets of iron-fortified tomato paste varieties in Nigeria alone – an historic milestone in food fortification as it is the first-ever, iron fortified tomato-based product.
The statement said production and distribution in Ghana were expected later this year.
The partnership with the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, a Nigeria-based non-governmental organisation dedicated to maternal, newborn and child health, brings substantial resources to support Fortify’s work.
In addition to its deep relationships with governments and institutions in West Africa and globally, WBFA has the infrastructure and network to educate community health workers and families about the potentially life-saving benefit of consuming this improved version of tomato paste, a West African staple.
“Joining forces with the Wellbeing Foundation at this juncture could not be better timing. Now that iron-fortified tomato mixes are reaching even the most rural villages, we can jointly work to help educate health care workers and women about the importance of adding iron to their diets,” Fortify’s Founder and CEO, Nancy Martin said.
“Mrs Saraki has been a leading voice in maternal, newborn and child health in Nigeria since serving as the First Lady of Kwara State in 2003, and knows how to reach and educate stakeholders at every level in Nigeria. She is also a recognised global voice for women, newborns and children, advising multiple organisations including the World Health Organisation and the United Nations. We are especially pleased that Mrs Saraki has recently accepted our invitation to serve as a member of Fortify’s Advisory Council.”
Mrs Saraki said “When we began discussions with Fortify, I was struck by how elegant yet practical a solution this is for iron deficiency anemia in that tomato paste is already built into the food supply and is a big part of meals every African eats.”
“According to the WHO the benefits of ending iron deficiency anemia are substantial as timely treatment can restore personal health and raise national productivity levels by as much as 20 per cent,” she said.
BY TIMES REPORTER