Nutritional deficiency, especially lack of Vitamin A, has put two billion people at risk all over the world, according to the Country Technical Consultant for Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, (GAIN), Professor Olugbenga Ogunmoyela.
In an interviewÂ with the press at the National Secretariat of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST), Lagos, he explained that GAIN was a public/private initiative with a mission to reduce malnutrition through food fortification and other strategies,Â to check the health danger posed to world population.
â€œIn the course of food processing, a lot of nutrients and vitamins are lost. Most people are affected by this lack of nutrients. So based on a national nutrition survey conducted, it was found that some populations in Nigeria are severely malnourishedÂ â€“ essentially Vitamin A deficiency.
In some areas about 40 per cent of the population, and most at risk are children under five years of age and mothers. So government needed to do something.â€
Ogunmoyela, who is also the Dean , College of Food Science, Bells University of Technology, Ota, Ogun State, said three major food products were selected due to their wide usage for fortifications of necessary nutrients.
These are flour (Semolina), sugar and vegetable oil.
The National Industrial Standard prescribed the amount of Vitamin A which should be present in flour, sugar and vegetable oil, which was approved and signed into law in 2000.
â€œNutritional deficiency arising from mineral shortages put 2 billion people at risk all over the world. Those adversely affected are people in the lower socio-economic level in developing countries. Vitamin A deficiency can result in impaired vision and may lead to blindness. Many nations now have mineral fortification programmes,â€ he stated.
A National Fortification Alliance (NFA) was formed involving all the stakeholders in the food industry to anchor the Nigerian Food Fortification project.
He clarified a misleading information emanating from the recent National Fortification Alliance meeting in Abuja that two billion people had died as a result of Vitamin A deficiency around the world, which is not correct.
â€œTwo billion people are at risk all over the world for lack of nutrients an d that Federal Government did not get $200m grant for the food fortification programme but only $2.4m project is currently being executed in Nigeria by GAIN.
Ogunmoyela pointed out that the phase one of the project has been completed which is the baseline study to provide the basis for the phase Two.
GAIN â€“ global Alliance for Improved Nutrition has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland and supports food fortification projects around the world.
It is mainly interested in the nutrition of infants and young children, who need proteins, Vitamins and nutrients to ensure good health status.