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Pakistan’s first-ever survey on Fortification Assessment Coverage Toolkit launched

  |   SUN Civil Society Network, SUN Country Network, SUN UN Network

The Ministry of Planning Development and Reform (MoPD&R) Pakistan, with support from Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) along with Oxford Policy Management has organized a dissemination of Fortification Assessment Coverage Toolkit (FACT) Survey in Islamabad. This survey is undertaken to determine the coverage and likely contribution of fortified foods to micronutrient intake among women of reproductive age (aged 15-49 years) and children under five.

Muhammad Aslam Shaheen, Chief Nutrition (MoPD&R) and SUN Focal Point, welcomed the honorable guests. In his remarks he said that this survey will help to document the accomplishments of ongoing food fortification programs in the country, identify the potential barriers, provide baseline for future Food Fortification Programs, guide the current large-scale Food Fortification Program and help to refine and rework the project interventions in the light of information received from both the service providers and end users. The market information will be vital to gauge the quality of products and services and identify gaps in food system.  There is inadequate information on the coverage and consumption of fortified staple foods in Pakistan. The FACT survey will provide representative data both at national and provincial level and share information of at high-risk populations including women of reproductive age and children in Pakistan.

Dr. BaseerAchakzai, Director Nutrition, MoNHSR&C, highlighted that the survey provided evidence that fortification of salt and oil/ghee could have a large impact on the intakes of iodine and vitamin A among young children and Women of Reproductive Age in Baluchistan, Punjab, and Sindh. However for this to occur, all products would need to be fortified in compliance with the fortification standard. Currently, most of these products are fortified at below standards which call for focus efforts to increase compliance at production level.

GAIN’s country director, Dr Qaiser Pasha, said that GAIN has already done FACT surveys in 15 countries and Pakistan is the 16th country in the row. He hoped that the evidence generated through a scientifically rigorous process will be lavishly used by government and partners to inform new programs and improve on ground implementation.

While presenting the key results of FACT Survey Valerie Friesen, Technical Specialist GAIN shared that Salt fortification could fulfill iodine intake requirements among young children and women if all products are fortified according to standards, which is important given there are few natural iodine sources in the diet. However, the households not consuming fortified iodized salt (i.e. 25 per cent in Punjab, 16 percent in Balochistan) need to be reached.  She added that Oil/ghee fortification could have a large impact on vitamin A intakes among young children and women.

 

 

In his closing remarks, Dr. Azeem Khan, member of the Food Security and Climate Change, Planning Commission, shared that Food fortification has been a significant public health intervention because the diversity of our food production as well consumption is low and expensive. Therefore the fortification programs are the most relevant initiative to meet the micronutrient deficiencies in the short term in a cost effective way. We should go far 100 percent fortification of (Salt,Oil/Ghee and Wheat flour) side by side bio fortification program may be undertaken to increase micronutrient supply intake. The Provincial role in improving the fortification coverage and quality has been very important. The provincial government can sign MOU’S with industries to improve fortification coverage. He assured that the findings and recommendations of this survey will be incorporated in the 12th five year plan to overcome malnutrition.

The event was attended by Government representatives from various federal ministries & provincial departments, SUN focal points from all provinces, International Donor & Development agencies, UN agencies, Development Partners, INGOs, Civil Society organizations and senior media persons.

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