Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Hidden Hunger

In the developing world, 3 billion people lack essential micronutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Iron, Folic Acid, and Zinc. These deficiencies increase maternal mortality, risk of illness from common infections while reducing learning capacity and slowing down mental development.

Micronutrient deficiency is one of the global challenges we seldom hear about. It does not have the media attention or celebrity sponsorship, which are often essential to attracting widespread attention and aid to a cause.

In 2008, the Copenhagen Consensus Center asked a group of the world’s top economists to identify the investments in which a relatively small amount of money could yield the biggest return in terms of health, prosperity, and community advantages. Micronutrient supplementation ranked among the top three. Providing Vitamin A for a year costs as little as $1.20 per child, while providing Zinc costs as little as $1.

China has already made tremendous progress fighting Iodine Deficiency Disorders, the primary cause for preventable mental retardation and brain damage, through salt fortification. Increased coverage of iodized salt has risen from 39 percent to 95 percent in a span of 10 years.

-Martina Georgieva