Tanzania: 2.7% of GDP lost due to micronutrient deficiencies

Tanzania loses an estimated 2.65% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to vitamin and micronutrient deficiencies among its people, said Obey Assery, the Director of Coordination of Government Business in the Prime Minister’s Office, at the opening of a seminar on food fortification to journalists in Dar es Salaam.

The seminar was organized by the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC) and supported by the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) through Helen Keller International.

In a speech read on his behalf by the TFNC acting Director General Benedict Kyeje, Mr. Assery said that such a large financial loss could be avoided. “If all people were consuming vitamin and mineral as prescribed by nutrition officials, such problem would be minimized or alleviated,” he said.

Instead, he said, lack of vitamins and minerals have contribute to increased death among children and reduce economic growth.

According to the Tanzania Demographic Health Survey (TDHS) 2012, micronutrient deficiencies are high among women of child bearing age, with 40 percent anemic, 36 percent iodine deficient, 30 percent iron deficient and 37 percent Vitamin A deficient.

Mr. Assery encouraged Tanzanians to consume fortified food products as stipulated by the government for their health benefits.

A series of fortification related initiatives are undertaken by the government in Tanzania, including formation of the National Fortification Alliance (NFFA) responsible for developing a national action plan to carry out mandatory fortification of staple foods, including wheat flour, maize flour and edible oil.

Tanzania joined the SUN Movement in June 2011, and has steadily taken necessary critical steps for curbing malnutrition. “We are committed to ensure food security in the country and to scale up nutrition through various decisive measures,” said Mr. Assery said.

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