? Introduction of World Health Assembly’s Global Nutrition Target, where several aims at the reduction of symptoms of micronutrient deficiencies, were implemented in a bid to tackle the public health problem.
? Targets included 50% reduction of anaemia in women of reproductive age (pregnant/non-pregnant) and 30% reduction in low birth weight, amongst other factors.
? “Scaling Up Nutrition” launched in 2010 aims to promote action at all levels to build on existing structures and policies – and implement new ones – all with a clearly defined nutritional focus. Approaches include Nutrition-Specific aims which pinpoint obvious nutritional targets and Nutrition-Sensitive, which aims to target areas that influence nutritional status but are not themselves nutritional targets (i.e Education, Child-care, sanitation and hygiene)
? Progress towards goals requires action at all levels:
UNICEF report on 4 programme areas where this approach has had significant results (Annual
– Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF)
– Nutrition in emergencies and treatment of severe acute malnutrition
– General nutrition
Optimal IYCF practices include:
– Early initiation of breastfeeding (within an hour of life)
– Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months
– Continued breastfeeding to 2 years or beyond
– Introduction of safe and nutritionally adequate complementary foods after 6 months (weaning)
– Ensuring adequate nutritional intake of breastfeeding mothers
These practices are paramount to prevention of all forms of child malnutrition including stunting
and wasting, as well as obesity.
Micronutrient supplementation is usually provided through the existing health services and can be taken orally or by injection.
Priority should be given to vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women and children. Supplementation is mandated in cases of a specific deficiency when other approaches are too slow. Although some micronutrients must be taken daily or weekly (e.g., iron and zinc), others can be stored in the body and need only be taken at intervals of months to years (e.g., vitamin A and iodine).
Nevertheless, modes of delivery, patient compliance and potential toxicity all need to be considered
Diet-based techniques are probably the most promising approach for a sustainable control of micronutrient deficiencies. Increasing dietary variation through consumption of a broad diversity of foods, preferably from home gardens and livestock production, is effective. Families must undergo education and receive supported to increase production of dark-green leafy vegetables, yellow and orange fruits, poultry, eggs, fish and milk.
Possible future strategies to prevent micronutrient deficiency include the harvesting of micronutrient-rich crops, through either conventional farming techniques or genetic modification of existing crops. Thus far however, the micronutrient concentrations achieved are very low. Furthermore, iron concentrations in bioengineered rice are no higher than those in natural varieties such as basmati or jasmine rice.