Micro Nutrients Deficiency Control

Micronutrient Deficiencies, defined as a lack of essential vitamins and minerals required in small amounts by the body for proper growth and development, is now recognized as an important contributor to the global burden of diseases. It affects several million people around the world and contributes to growth retardation, impaired intellectual performance, reduced work capacity, morbidity and mortality.  These lead to adverse socioeconomic retardation of entire communities and therefore nations. Micronutrient malnutrition has been identified as the ‘Hidden Hunger’. The three most common forms of micronutrient deficiency are Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD), Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) and Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA). The key strategies used in fighting micronutrient deficiencies include: the promotion of the consumption of food rich in micronutrients, the fortification of salt for iodine deficiency, the supplementation of children under-five with vitamin A capsules and the provision of iron folic acid tablets for pregnant women.

Micronutrient Deficiencies are a huge problem in The Gambia and the deficiencies of public health concern are Vitamin A, Iron Deficiency Anemia, and Iodine

 

 Deficiency. Almost 50.9% of non-pregnant women (15-49 years) and 56.8% of pregnant women are affected by anaemia, nationally, 18.2% have Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), Iron deficiency (ID) and Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) are 59.0% and 38.2%, respectively in Gambian children 6-59 months of age, (GMNS, 2018).

The Micronutrient Deficiency Control Programme of The Gambia aims to reduce or eliminate micronutrient deficiencies of public health importance among the most vulnerable population, particularly women and children. NaNA, in collaboration with partners have been implementing several programmes over the years to help combat the problem. The following interventions have been designed and are being implemented to reduce the prevalence:

Anaemia Control– the government is currently trying to combat the issue of Iron Deficiency Anemia in pregnant women through iron folic acid supplementation during antenatal clinic attendance, promotion of dietary diversification as well as fortification and biofortification.

Vitamin A Supplementation (VAS) – aims at supplementing all children 6–59 months (100,000 IU) every 6 months. Post–partum mothers are also supplemented with a high dose supplement (200,000 IU) within eight weeks of delivery.

Deworming– to deworm all children from 12-59 months with mebendazole every six months.

Salt iodization– working with communities and other partners to increase salt production, improve quality, as well as to iodize the salt produced. Iodized Salt is currently being produced in The Gambia mainly from Bintang, Jokadou Darsilameh, Joulie, Kombo Darsilameh, Masembeh, and Foni Darsilameh. The salt produced is iodized in the communities by members of the National Association of Salt Producers and Traders (NASPaT) present in the salt producing communities. Thanks to this great initiative, World Food Programme is able to buy locally produced iodized salt for the School Feeding Programme in the country.

Multiple Micronutrient Powder (MMP) Supplementation– aims at giving children 6-24 months MMPs to sprinkle on their foods to improve the micronutrient content. This programme is currently being implemented in Lower River Region, Central River Region, North Bank Regions, and West Coast Region.

  • Vitamin A supplementation program – to supplement all children 6 - 59 months and post-partum mothers within eight weeks of delivery with a high dose supplement.

  • Establishment and/or expansion of Community gardens in more than 100 communities in LRR and URR

  • Salt Iodization Programme - working with the communities and other partners to increase salt production, improve the quality of the salt produced and to iodize it. Iodized salt is now being produced in the Gambia mainly from Bintang, Darsilameh, and Joulie

  • Mobile Salt Iodization plant in use: A team of NaNA staff and other personnel carry out a countrywide iodization exercise iodizing salts for both small and large scale producers and dealers at no cost to them,

  • World Food Programme now buying iodized salt locally for the School Feeding Programme expecting to reach nearly 120,000 school children

  • NaNA and WFP worked on an operational research using a multi-package approach to address the issue of anemia among pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five. This has now been adopted by the Agency and is being scaled up in 100 communities in the LRR and URR

  • Development and production of IEC/BCC materials to increase awareness of micronutrient deficiency among population

  • IEC/BCC messages such as spots and jingles on VAD and IDD developed and aired over the TV and radio.