FG, Private Partners Unveil Digital Solution for Micronutrient, Better Health for Pregnant Women

Rebecca Ejifoma 

The Federal Ministry of Health with local and international partners in the food processing industry has said it is working closely and strategically with maternal centres across the nation – public and private – to improve consumption of micronutrient foods among pregnant women and children under-five.

This was made known at the launch of the digitalised Large Scale Food Fortification (LSFF)  in Lagos hosted by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and TechnoServe (TNS) among others.

As outlined at the launch, anemia is said to be driven by insufficient iron in the diet among the country’s severe health challenges. 
They disclosed that in 2019, 68.9 per cent of Nigerian children under-five were anemic, which causes permanent developmental setbacks. 

With Nigeria as the 4th nation having the highest rate of maternal deaths on earth, John Oruakpa from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) bemoaned that women suffering from severe anemia are more than twice as likely to die in childbirth. 

However, he noted that the fortification of wheat flour and maize flour with iron can reduce the prevalence of anemia by as much as 34 per cent. 

And to further help pregnant women and Nigerians relish the benefits of fortified foods, Oruakpa highlighted some features to look out for. 
Each pack of fortified foods has either a symbol of two hands carrying the Nigerian map, or letter “A” inside an eye on the packs of food products. 

With the unveiling of the digitised system, the partnership assured newsmen that it is ready to ensure staple foods are fortified with the right levels of essential vitamins and minerals to support good health and nutrition.

In his remark, the Director of Nutrition, BMGF, Andreas Bluethner, told newsmen that the foundation is investing in food fortification markets to provide quality nutritious foods that are affordable and accessible to all.

He emphasised: “Digital innovation will allow nutritional improvements to be assessed and maintained over time.

“The selected producers to participate in the pilot phase will receive support from a team of digital experts to co-design and install the new digital quality assurance/quality control system.”

Speaking also, the Country Director, GAIN Nigeria, Dr. Michael Ojo, insisted that the digitised system would allow companies to assure every customer that the nutrient content of their product is guaranteed, reducing health risks and offering a direct path to longer and healthier lives.

This synergy aims to help secure nutrients in foods to harness good health, resilience and productivity among Nigerians. 

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