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Model national Vitamin A supplementation campaign reaches 19 million Bangladeshi children

Page history last edited by Rosemary 12 years, 5 months ago

 

Government, partners raise vitamin A supplementation coverage to 90% from 50% in mid-1990s

Child rights activists, NGOs, international donor agencies and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, have successfully provided life-saving vitamin A doses to 19 million children younger than five across Bangladesh. The National Vitamin A Plus Campaign was conducted from 140,000 sites in health centres, schools, and bus, boat and train stations across the country on Saturday May 10, 2008.

"This campaign marks another milestone towards attaining the global goal for sustainable elimination of vitamin A deficiency by the year 2010," said Professor Fatima Parveen Chowdhury, Director of the Institute of Public Health Nutrition (IPHN) and Line Director of Micronutrients. “ Vitamin A doses save the lives of more than 30,000 children annually in the impoverished nation, while reducing illness in tens of thousands more. Bangladesh conducts two vitamin A supplementation campaigns each year, with the next one likely in October.

Improving the vitamin A status of children cuts measles fatalities by up to 50%, diarrhoea fatalities by 40% and overall mortality by 25%, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). “It is fortunate that vitamin A supplementation provides a highly cost-effective way of protecting children from vitamin A deficiency. A simple vitamin A capsule, each costing only one Taka, can increase a child’s chances of survival by up to 25%,” said Dr. Iyorlumun Uhaa, Acting Country Representative, UNICEF Bangladesh. 

The National Vitamin A Plus Campaign in Bangladesh can be seen as a model for other countries that are struggling to achieve and maintain high coverage of vitamin A supplementation, says UNICEF. Bangladesh, recognized globally as a pioneer in this area, was the first country in South Asia to integrate vitamin A supplementation of children aged 1-5 years with the Polio National Immunization Days (NIDs) in 1995 and one of the first to continue providing vitamin A supplements to children using a campaign approach after polio NIDs were discontinued.

This new strategy, the National Vitamin A Plus Campaign, is used to deliver other interventions to children. Health workers and volunteers also distributed de-worming tablets to 17 million children aged between two and five as part of the vitamin A campaign.

Since 2004, Bangladesh has been one of the few countries purchasing vitamin A capsules with its own funds through the National Nutrition Programme and IPHN. Due to efforts of the Government and partners in Bangladesh, the coverage of vitamin A supplementation increased from around 50% in the mid-1990s to 90% in recent years.

The campaign was implemented by the IPHN, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with collaboration from the Expanded Programme on Immunization and supported by UNICEF, the Micronutrient Initiative, Canadian International Development Agency, and World Health Organization.

This story was prepared from an IRIN news story, BANGLADESH: Vitamin A campaign targets 19 million children, datelined Dhaka 16 May 2008, and a UNICEF story entitled Bangladesh conducts Vitamin A supplementation campaign for 19 million children, dated 8 May 2008.

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