Who are they?
Project Healthy Children (PHC) runs micronutrients fortification programs, through which micronutrients such as iron, vitamin A, iodine, zinc and folic acid are added to staple food such as wheat and maize flour, sugar, and oil. It is one of our 'opportunities for leverage' recommended charities. This post takes a look at PHC as they work towards establishing West African standards in fortification.
While the problem of malnutrition in underdeveloped countries may be severe, micronutrients fortification has high and immediate payback. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies (VMD) productivity, and put burdens on health-care systems. It is estimated by the Micronutrient Initiative and the UN that these deficiencies cause a loss of 2% of GDP in affected countries. On the other hand, the cost for a fortification program is below 30 cents per person per year.
PHC conducts operations in sub-Saharan countries such as Rwanda and Malawi, placing advisors in recipient governments to offer encouragement, coordination and technical support. PHC's support in national fortification programs includes measuring the nutrients consumed by the population, helping the government implement industrial food fortification, and helping the country building up monitoring systems. Below the national level, PHC also offers support for smaller scale fortification programs to people who do not have access to centrally processed food.
Why are they recommended?
We recommend PHC because their work influencing government policy may be very cost-efficient. It is conceivable that 140 DALYs from anemia can be averted for each $1,000 spent, which would lead to a higher impact than AMF and SCI. Moreover, their work in food fortification fills a gap largely neglected by other organisations.
What are they up to?
Most recently, according to Laura Rowe, the Chief Operating Officer at PHC, the organisation has advised the National Fortification Alliance of Liberia on adopting a set of Liberia-specific fortification standards based on a PHC review of consumption, coverage and trade data. If these mandatory fortification standards are successfully set, it will be a significant milestone, as Liberia is heavily import-dependent, and they could be replicated in many other countries.
What can we do?
Micronutrient deficiency is gaining greater publicity and attracting greater governmental attention. In Rwanda the government held fortification training programs in April and May this year. A national fortification program was also launched in Tanzania in mid-June. PHC has been heavily involved in this trend and, with your support, will continue to push for fortification. As with most of our recommended charities, donations to PHC will help fund programs that tackle developmental issues at the most basic and fundamental level - improving the health of children to provide a far more prosperous future for underdeveloped nations.
Donate now, via our recommended charities page.
Image credit: Project Healthy Children