Canadian company to take health initiatives in Nepal

Canadian-developed device fortifies flour

CTV.ca News Staff

An Ottawa-based organization has created a device that adds essential vitamins and minerals to flour, which can provide crucial assistance to people living in Third World countries.

The Micronutrient Initiative, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to eliminating vitamin and mineral deficiencies worldwide, has developed a flour fortification device to help combat anemia. The condition is typified by a shortage of red blood cells and causes weakness and fatigue.

The Micronutrient Initiative is planning to implement its program in Nepal, where 65 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from anemia, which is caused by a deficiency in vitamins and minerals.

“It’s an extremely simple and rugged device that can be fitted to a small mill that processes most of the cereals that people in villages in Nepal consume,” Venkatesh Mannar, president of the Micronutrient Initiative told CTV’s Canada AM.

“It does not require electricity and it can add predetermined quantities of vitamins and minerals to the flour as it is milled through the mill.”

Mannar said that micronutrient deficiencies have been known about in several developing countries for at least 15 years.

Mannar said that the Micronutrient Initiative, in association with other major international organizations, is working to provide solutions for women and children who are especially affected by the debilitating effects of anemia.

“It causes a significant reduction in cognitive skills in young children which cannot be corrected later in life,” Mannar said. “It leads to anemia in women. It could threaten their lives during childbirth, once they are severely anemic.

“Overall it reduces the productive energy of a whole population. So this is something extremely serious and that can be corrected at an extremely low cost.”

Mannar says that noticeable differences in the energy levels and health of those who have consumed the fortified flour are noticeable within six months.

The Micronutrient Initiative has won a World Bank Marketplace Award for its flour fortification device. The organization hopes to implement its use in 100 villages in Nepal and then introduce it in several countries across Asia.

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