Fortify, a U.S.based NGO is to partner with Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) and food manufacturers to produce 20 million sachets of iron fortified tomato paste varieties in Nigeria.
Shola Ayelabola, Chief Press Secretary WBFA, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday, in Abuja.
Ayelabola said the initiative was an historic milestone and first ever iron fortified tomato-based product in Nigeria.
He said the partnership was aimed at bringing together private sector ingenuity, local know-how and leadership to save millions of women and children suffering from iron deficiency in West Africa.
“The product will further improve maternal survival, as iron deficiency was a major underlying cause of maternal deaths during child birth in developing countries.
“Iron deficiency is the most widespread public health disorder in the world affecting at least one-third of the global population, with women aged 15 to 49 years and children under five years being highly vulnerable.
“In developing countries, premenopausal women are also particularly vulnerable due to iron loss in menstrual blood and increase iron demand in pregnancy.
“ Iron deficiency can lead to premature labour, intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight in infants, birth asphyxia, neonatal anemia and death.
“ However, the consequence of the condition affects not only personal health, but economic health of communities and countries as well,’’ he said.
Ayelabola said that Fortify works with the private sector and guide companies to add iron to everyday meals through the fortification of simple healthy foods consumed by most families.
He quoted Ms Nancy Martin, Fortify Founder as saying the partnership couldn’t come be at a better time.
“Now iron fortified tomato mixes are reaching most rural villages.
“We can jointly work to help educate healthcare workers and women about the importance of adding iron to their diets.
He also quoted Mrs Toyin Saraki, Founder WBFA, as saying:”the partnership will engage First Ladies and Policymakers across Africa in accelerated efforts to eradicate iron deficiency.
“WBFA, dedicated to maternal, new born and child health will provide infrastructure and network to educate community health workers and families on benefits of consuming the improved version of tomato paste.
“Fortify and Wellbeing Foundation are determined to end the devastating effects of iron deficiency and improve maternal health outcomes of women and their families,’’ Saraki said.
According to WHO, the benefits of ending iron deficiency anemia are substantial as timely treatment can restore personal health and raise national productivity levels as much as 20 per cent.