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UK launches a mega program to combat malnutrition in Pakistan

KARACHI: The UK government’s most extensive Food Fortification Program (FFP) was launched in Sindh to combat malnutrition in Pakistan. The FFP aims to tackle vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the diets of the general public, women and children in particular.

By January 2021, as many as 153 flour mills and 44 oil/ghee mills will be fortified in Sindh. The FFP, which already operates in Karachi, Hyderabad, and Maitri, promotes the use of fortified wheat flour and edible oil as a cost-effective intervention to improve the health of the general public and focuses mainly on women and children.

Funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, the program will be implemented by Mott MacDonald in collaboration with Nutrition International and a partnership of National and Provincial governments, wheat flour and edible oil industries.

The FFP is based on evidence which shows how food fortification can help prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies and promote healthy brain functioning, normal growth, and development. Speaking at the event, the head of DFID Pakistan, Joanna Reid said, “Fixing malnutrition in Pakistan is a complex challenge. The burden of micronutrient deficiencies, otherwise known as hidden hunger, is particularly worrying in Sindh. The FFP is contributing to the UK’s aim of improving access to nutritious food for children and women of childbearing age.

Fortifying edible oil and wheat flour with essential vitamins and minerals is a cost-effective solution to fight malnutrition. The UK’s key priority is investing in people. We must ensure we leave no one behind, particularly those who are most vulnerable to malnutrition.”

Addressing the ceremony, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Minister of Health and Population Welfare, Sindh stated, “The Government of Sindh is keen to improve the nutrition of its people through various nutrition interventions, and one of those is, of course, food fortification. We are taking effective measures to address malnutrition challenges and committed to maintaining international standards of fortified wheat flour and edible oil to those segments of the society that are facing malnutrition.”

Ms Reid visited the Good Luck Flour Mill to inaugurate the micro feeder equipment used for wheat flour fortification. A delegation of the Sindh government, British High Commission, and FFP officials also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The FFP will support the rollout by working with the Sindh government to develop a policy and legislation on mandatory fortification of wheat flour and edible oil and with industry to increase private sector knowledge of the fortification, quality assurance, and quality control processes.

June 21, 2019

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