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Hidden hunger Reflecting on the first-ever summit on food fortification and hidden hunger


by Greg S. Garrett, Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)

hree weeks ago we closed the groundbreaking Global Summit on Food Fortification in Arusha, Tanzania. The momentum from this event is creating the environment needed to ensure the world’s most cost-effective development solution is scaled-up throughout Africa and Asia to help end hidden hunger. The Summit was formally opened by Africa Union Nutrition Champion, King Letsie III of Lesotho as well as the Prime Minister of Tanzania. Two different African Union Commissioners gave plenary speeches and President Kikwete of Tanzania paid a visit to the Summit organising team on the final day. Over a dozen ministers of health and industry from low-and middle-income countries attended among the 29 government delegations. These delegations made various commitments to scale up fortification with essential vitamins and minerals in order to better address hidden hunger, representing well over a billion additional at-risk individuals in their respective countries who can benefit from these renewed efforts. Dr Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Program for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stated on day two: “After a decade long investment and food fortification being such a well proven, tested, method – why has it taken us so long to hold this very important conference?”

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After the event, even the New York Times reported on the great opportunity fortification offers to help address malnutrition globally. For me personally it was rewarding to see many months spent planning pay off. It was also an opportunity to present results from a recent study and publication I co-authored on an area of great concern and interest, for example, improving the quality and compliance of fortified foods. Closing the ground-breaking summit, H.E Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, delivered an impassioned Statement on behalf of the co-hosts (the Government of Tanzania and GAIN) and co-conveners (WFP, UNICEF, SUN Secretariat, African Union, USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) in the form of the Arusha Statement on Food Fortification. I’d like to leave you with some of the highlights from that statement which should excite us as we aim to reach a billion more people with better food and nutrition and end hidden hunger: We leave Arusha with a determination to build a new movement, a future fortified with improved food and nutrition security. We have the tools, we need to finish the job started a hundred years ago and make the benefits of this simple and cost effective approach to an improved diet available to all. Preventable deficiencies of critical vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A, D, iron, iodine, folic acid and zinc

Oct 2015 - Milling and Grain magazine  
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