High-level Summit: transforming Afghanistan’s future through food fortification

High-level Summit themed as “Transforming Afghanistan’s future through food fortification”, for conducting public outreach and advocacy over food fortification, held at Inter-Continental Hotel on 20th December 2016.

Consequently, respective institutions consisting Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Global Alliance for improved nutrients (GAIN), Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) in coordination with line ministries such as Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and livestock and Ministry of commerce and industries and in full technical and financial support of Donor Organizations namely as USAID, WHO, UNICEF, FAO and World Bank organized the high level summit on food fortification.

At the summit, following entities specifically Mr. Ahmad Zia Massoud presidential Special representative on good governance and reforms, first Vice Chairman of ACCI Mr. Khan Jan Alokozay, MOPH Minister Mr. Firuzuddin Firuz, Minister of Agriculture, irrigation and livestock Assadullah Zameer, MOIC Minister Mr. Abdul Satar Murrad, Minister of Commerce and industries Mr. Mohammad Hamayoon Rasaw, Finance Minister Mr. Aklil Hakimi, Mines and petroleum Minister Mrs. Ghezal Abibyar Safi and (GAIN) Country Director Mohibullah Wahdati talked from their perspectives over the summit and on its importance effects.

H.E Mr. Ahmad Zia Massoud called food fortification significant told that: “Over the past years, our country has faced tremendous matters that deprived the country from cultural, social and socio – economic growth. These problems has affected various social and economic spheres, lack of access to fortified food is one of them.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Massoud described the role of food fortification on improvement and development of health and physical condition of children, Women, youth and noted the positive consequences of food fortification on the economy of people.

Mr. Alokozay while greeting the guests spoke over the role of Private sector on food fortification and added: “I would like to draw your attention to food fortification; the role of private sector on food fortification expands by every other day, the issue of food fortification has been one of top priorities of developed countries; however, unfortunately no consideration taken place to this regards in Afghanistan, as a result a board consisting of ACCI, Ministry of Public Heath, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and livestock and Ministry of Commerce has formed that would be supervised by national and international organizations.”

He additionally added that: “according to the surveys, the country faces the shortage of fortified foods that causes different diseases among children, women and youth. He asked producer, importer and supplier to put their attention on fortification of food with Vitamins, Mineral and Iodine.

Public health minister H.E Mr. Firuzuddin Firuz explained the significance of food fortification on human health adding that: “more than 40% of children aged under five years are affected to severe hanger caused from malnutrition and chronic, while 10% suffer semi-severe hanger; in the same manner, 50% aging between 6 to 59 months suffering from shortage of Vitamin as well as other 80 percent don’t access to Vitamin D on their daily food, what is more to say, is around 44% of children aged under five years are affected to anemia.”

Following to the commitment of the ministry for conclusion of malnutrition, based on activity plan of the ministry, Mr. Firuz promised for cessation of malnutrition diseases beyond 2030.

Mr. Assadullah Zameer addressed the long term policy of Ministry of Agriculture, irrigation and livestock on fortification of food, noting that the five-year plan of the ministry, especially self- sufficiency programs on wheat, horticulture and livestock development, growth of soybean crop would led the country to sustainable fortified food owner in the region.

Mrs. Ghezal Habibyar Safi talked on fortification of salt with iodine estimating the production of salt 300 thousand ton per year consequently he measured access to fortified salt 10% only.

Food fortification is deemed as one the most effective and cheapest way for reducing spread of malnutrition diseases as well as in long run it is believed to prevent malnutrition diseases spreading on population of a land.  Fortification of foods with vitamins and minerals can have a beneficial effect in prevention and treatment of diseases caused by vitamins and minerals poverty. As a result, they the lack of their supplement to health would in long run cause to several harmful effects and consequences, as the shortage of some vitamins such as iron and Iodine could lead to severe and even fatal consequences.

For the purpose of the implementation of food fortification on domestic and imported basic foodstuffs such as flour, oil and salt, joint implementing board has been created.

Noteworthy, this is the first ever food fortification program in the country, almost all Afghan families currently achieve edible oils from bazar which consists 90 percent importing oil from foreign countries, while none of edible oil is marked fortified in the country. Afghanistan chamber of Commerce and industries observes the inauguration of flour, oil and salt fortification summit quite significant for health of children and population. On the other hand, prevention of vitamins and minerals lacking diseases would also stand effective for those families suffering economic and financial problems.

ACCI calls on all manufacturing and importing business people across the country to put their full attention on food fortification issue as their top priority.