Events, Regional News

54% of children are vitamin A deficient in Pakistan: Nutrition International

KARACHI: A workshop on vitamin A supplementation (VAS) was recently conducted by Nutrition International, in collaboration with the Provincial Health Department, Sindh. The event was chaired by Shehzad Afzal, National Program Manager for Child Survival and Development, Nutrition International, Dr Fatima Saad, Provincial Program Manager, Nutrition International, Muhammad Yasin, National Program Coordinator, Ms Tahira, Dr M B Dharejo, Program Manager, Nutrition Task Force P&D.

The aim of the workshop was to create awareness among for the district focal persons (DFPs) of Sindh regarding supplementation. The objective was to sensitize the district focal persons on the importance of vitamin A in human life. The roles of DFPs in the VAS campaign were discussed and also regarding the ways they could improve vitamin A coverage in Sindh during NIDs (National Immunisation Days).

Shehzad Afzal referred to the statistics of the National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2011. According to the report, approximately 53% of children under the age of 5 were vitamin A deficient in Sindh, whereas 54% of children under 5 were vitamin A deficient at the national level. This was an alarming situation and required serious attention.

Shehzad further said that the backbone of the VAS program were the DFPs in the province and could play an integral role in improving the situation. This would thereby contribute to a reduction in the morbidity and motility of children under 5.

Dr Fatima Saad spoke on the importance of vitamin A and the effects of its deficiency on the human body. The role of vitamin A in enhancing immunity to combat measles were also discussed. The trainers stated that antioxidants like vitamin A were also responsible for regulating gene regulation, maintaining healthy and clear skin, facilitating cell differentiation, and supporting immune function. Some of the best sources of vitamin A include eggs, milk, liver, yellow or orange vegetables, such as carrots and squash, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables.

Muhammad Yasin stated that mortality among children aged from 6 to 9 months reduced by 23% through vitamin A supplementation. Vitamin A deficiency resulted in night blindness. She stated that vitamin A was an essential tool for the treatment of measles as well

Ms Tahira emphasized the role of DFPs in different stages of the NIDs campaign. Vitamin A logistic guidelines were also discussed with the DFPs.

Dr M B Dharejo concluded the session and highlighted the role of Nutrition International for vitamin A supplementation in the Sindh province.He said vitamin A is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system and protects the body against disease. He stressed that VAS coverage in all districts should be more than 95%.

Dharejo emphasized the preparation of proper micro plans, including the targets of VAS and an adequate distribution plan for VAS based on goals. He said that the quality of training needed improvement. Additionally, proper time should be allocated to vitamin A during pre-NIDs training. Social mobilization activities for NIDs should include vitamin A. He concluded that vitamin A should also be made a part of routine immunization, and the indicator should be included in the customary monitoring system of the province.

Photo courtesy: apolitical


December 6, 2019

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