ISLAMABAD, Aug 16 (APP):Ministry of Planning Development and Reform with the support of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Oxford Policy Management has launched Fortification Assessment Coverage Toolkit (FACT) Survey 2018.
This survey was undertaken to determine the coverage and likely contribution of fortified foods to micro-nutrient intake among women of reproductive age between 15-49 years and children under five.
The survey was also conducted to provide data on household coverage and consumption of fortified foods and availability and quality of fortified foods in the markets.
It was observed that salt, oil and ghee were universally consumed by all households (100%) in the three provinces.
Coverage of fortifiable salt was relatively high as 84% of household in Balochistan, 75% in Punjab and 98% in Sindh.
The coverage of fortifiable oil or ghee was nearly universal in all provinces (98% to 100%) while the wheat flour was also universally consumed 100% in Balochistan and Punjab while 92% in Sindh.
The coverage of fortifiable wheat flour was considerably lower among households in all three provinces as 52% in Balochistan, 31% in Punjab and 63% in Sindh. Among households that reported consuming a fortifiable form of wheat flour, produced by Chakki mills accounted for 32% of the fortifiable flour consumed in Balochistan, 53% in Punjab and 60% in Sindh.
Member Food Security and Climate Change, Planning Commission Dr Azeem Khan said that food fortification has been a significant public health intervention as the diversity of our food production as well consumption is low and expensive.
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.
He added 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.
Chief Nutrition Ministry of Planning Development and Reform and SUN Focal Person, Muhammad Aslam Shaheen 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 and 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.
Director Nutrition Ministry of Planning Development and Reform Dr Baseer Achakzai highlighted that the survey provided evidence that fortification of salt and oil and ghee could have a large impact on the intakes of iodine and vitamin A among young children and women of reproductive age in Balochistan, 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.
Country Director GAIN 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 Technical Specialist GAIN MS Valerie Friesen, 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 like 25% in Punjab, 16% in Balochistan need to be reached. She added that oil and ghee fortification could have a large impact on vitamin A intakes among young children and women.
However, for this to occur all products need to be fortified according to standards. Moreover she added that potential impact of fortified wheat flour is limited as the contribution of flour mill ataa as the production of flour is much less than the total requirement. For which other sources of flour like chakies will have to be explored.
Ms Cecilia Garzon from United Nations World Food Programme Pakistan said that evidence is the only way to change our mode of work and this is the good study to help us in our future programs.
Manager Fortification program Mr Steward said that actualization of this survey is appreciable and will help stakeholders to make fortification program effective.