DG NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii
By Steve Dada
Food, beverages and allied products manufacturing companies have been enjoined to fortify their products with the necessary vitamins and minerals, to enhance the quality of nutrition and eliminate Micronutrient Deficiency Disorders (MDD) in the body.
Director-General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Paul Orhii, in a presentation at a one-day workshop on improving the effectiveness of food fortification in Nigeria held in Lagos yesterday, noted that though, minerals and vitamins were required in minute quantities, their absence in the body can cause severe MDD.
“Available evidence shows that Nigeria has one of the highest rates of child and maternal mortality in the world with vitamin A deficiency (VAD) being a major contributory factor, while micronutrient malnutrition has become a major devastating nutritional problem affecting the health of children, pregnant women and lactating mothers,” he said.
Tracing the history of fortification, Orhii said in 1992 at the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN), in Rome, participants called for the virtual elimination of micronutrient deficiency by the year 2000, but stressed that efforts to curb MDD in Nigeria started as a result of recommendations made during the World Summit for Children held in 1990, in New York, USA.
He mentioned the major MDDs as Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD), Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) and Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA), stressing that the Federal Government, in collaboration with international organisations and relevant development agencies had initiated certain actions and mounted control programmes aimed at addressing the micronutrient deficiency problems in the country.
Orhii explained that in the late 1990s, the Vitamin A food fortification group of experts, which included officers from NAFDAC and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), had identified three food vehicles, such as flour, sugar and vegetable oil to be used for the fortification programme and established the levels for each of the nutrients.