US firm partners well-being foundation to tackle Maternal deaths in Nigeria
US-based Fortify and Nigeria-based Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) has announced a formal partnership to address iron deficiency, the major underlying cause of maternal deaths during childbirth in Nigeria and other developing countries.
According to available data, Iron deficiency is the most widespread public health disorder in the world, affecting at least one-third of the global population.
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.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), says food-based approaches represent the most desirable and sustainable method of preventing micronutrient malnutrition.
Well-being foundation in a statement in Abuja, explained that, in developing countries, the main cause of iron deficiency is low iron bioavailability of the diet.
According to the statement, Premenopausal women are particularly vulnerable due to iron loss in menstrual blood and the increased iron demands of pregnancy. The overall global prevalence of anemia is just over 40% among two highly vulnerable populations: women aged 15–49 years and children under the age of five. In developing countries, the prevalence exceeds 50%.
“Iron deficiency can lead to premature labor, intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight of the infant, birth asphyxia, neonatal anemia, and death (of both the mother and the child). The consequences of iron deficiency not only affect personal health, but the economic health of communities and countries as well,” the statement read.
It informed that 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
“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.
“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.”
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%,” she continued.
“This new initiative will engage with First Ladies and policymakers across Africa in accelerated efforts to eradicate iron deficiency. I know how much impact First Ladies in Africa can bring to women, families and communities, particularly in improving maternal health outcomes due to their highly visible advocacy. Together, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Fortify are determined to end the devastating effects of iron deficiency on women and their families.”