- December 19, 2018
In West Africa, the prevalence and impact of micronutrient deficiencies are significant, and anemia, vitamin A deficiency, and iodine deficiency remain of public health concern. For example, every country in the region is off-track to reach the World Health Assembly 2025 global nutrition target for anemia prevalence reduction (Global Nutrition Report, 2018). Fortified rice has the potential to reach 130 million people in 12 African countries, three-quarters of which are in West Africa, and help tackle micronutrient deficiencies.
How could rice fortification help, and how might this happen? The new Sight and Life supplement with the World Food Programme explores these questions in depth. The comprehensive overview explains why fortifying rice with micronutrients can be part of an affordable, effective strategy to increase the intake of essential vitamins and minerals to reduce the prevalence of micronutrient malnutrition. Following the previous supplements on Scaling Up Rice Fortification in Latin America (2017) and Scaling Up Rice Fortification in Asia (2015), this edition takes a closer look at the continent that has the largest per capita rice consumption after Asia, yet where micronutrient deficiencies remain unacceptably high.
Each article in this supplement is thought-provoking and focuses on micronutrient deficiencies in West Africa. The articles explore the opportunities and challenges around rice fortification and its potential role in improving dietary quality. The articles cover a wide range of issues, ranging from food availability and consumption in the region (Mawuli Sablah, Greg Garrett and Ibrahim’s Parvanta) to a review of the progress and lessons learned from food fortification (Frederick Grant, Becky Tsang and Greg Garrett).
The supplement also busts common myths about rice fortification while exploring the most appropriate delivery channels and technologies for fortified rice. A special article is dedicated to the new WHO guidelines on rice fortification, and the supplement concludes with a summary of a West Africa Rice Fortification workshop where country delegates and global and regional technical partners discussed opportunities, challenges and next steps.
Sight and Life and WFP are grateful to the leading public health professionals who have contributed original articles and those which initially appeared in past supplements. We invite everyone to join the discussion and hope this supplement will inspire you to become advocates for scaling up rice fortification in West Africa and around the world!
“Rice fortification is the new conversation for furthering fortification in Africa. It is the enrichment of rice with essential vitamins and minerals post-harvesting to increase its nutritional value, and the potential for using rice as a vehicle to further increase the intake of missing essential vitamins and minerals is significant.”