National Fortification Alliance and World Food Programme launch pilot project to fortify wheat to fight malnutrition
ISLAMABAD – The National Fortification Alliance (NFA) of Pakistan, with technical support from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and funding from the Australian Government launched a pilot project to fight malnutrition by fortifying wheat flour in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. This project will support chakkis (small-scale grinders) to mill flour that is rich in micronutrients that are key to keeping families healthy.
“Given the extent of the consumption of wheat from chakkis, this project will provide a firm basis to reach nutritionally vulnerable populations and provide them with essential nutrients, which is another step WFP is taking to curb malnutrition in Pakistan,” said WFP Country Representative, Finbarr Curran at the launch of this programme today.
Dr. Baseer Achakzai from the National Fortification Alliance, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination also participated in the launch.
Almost half of Pakistan’s population suffers from micronutrient deficiencies which can lead to poor child growth, anaemia and many other health issues. Reducing these deficiencies is a high priority for the Government of Pakistan.
To improve families’ nutrition, the country has already embarked upon the systematic fortification of wheat flour produced by large-scale mills. Over the next five years, it is expected that the output of all industrial wheat flour mills will be fortified with essential nutrients.
However, fortification goals cannot be fully achieved without addressing the output of chakkis. These mills produce wheat flour for nearly 70 percent of the population, and most of these families are the poorest of the poor. This project targets the most vulnerable populations and fulfills the urgent need to assimilate chakkis within a broader national fortification effort.
Curran noted the importance of using an evidence-based approach in designing and implementing an effective fortification model for chakkis, with a view to future expansion.
The pilot project will provide the government with evidence about the potential for the chakki fortification programme to prevent micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition, particularly among the poorest populations.
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