Micronutrient Initiative

Micronutrient Initiative

November 20, 2009 10:30 ET

Micronutrient Initiative Receives Renewed Canadian Support to Expand Live-Saving and Life-Enhancing Programs

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 20, 2009) - The Micronutrient Initiative, a Canadian non-profit organization working to improve global nutrition through vitamins and minerals, received a $150 million boost to its programming from the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) today.

"We are grateful and encouraged by today's announcement that Canada will continue its support to the Micronutrient Initiative to ensure that the world's most vulnerable children and women get the vitamins and minerals they need to live rich and full lives," said Venkatesh Mannar, President, of the Micronutrient Initiative. "As today is National Children's Day, it is appropriate that the Minister of International Cooperation, the Honourable Bev Oda, is confirming Canada's continued commitment to saving and enhancing the lives of millions of children and their families through the Micronutrient Initiative's targeted programming. We are working to deliver our programs to all children, including those living in countries affected by war, natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies, and provide them with access to the nutrients that many Canadians today take for granted."

Long-term Canadian support of the Micronutrient Initiative has led to major reductions in child deaths globally. Since 1997, the organization has provided more than 75 per cent of the developing world's need for vitamin A and has contributed to saving the lives of an estimated 450,000 to 500,000 children every year. UNICEF recently reported that vitamin A supplementation, the Micronutrient Initiative's largest program, has made a significant contribution to the drop in the rate at which children under the age of five are dying; the rate has dropped from 12 million deaths in 1990 to 8.8 million deaths in 2008.

"Canada is making an important investment in development programs that work," said Mannar. "Micronutrients are low-cost interventions that have a significant impact on a child, a family, a community and a country's future. One vitamin A capsule costs mere cents to make but every dollar invested in vitamin A and zinc programming provides returns of $17 in the future."

This funding will also support the Micronutrient Initiative's efforts in salt iodization. Providing adequate iodine to children before they're born and in early childhood protects them against preventable brain damage; salt iodization has been dubbed the way to raise the world's IQ. "Canada has been the largest contributor to efforts to reach Universal Salt Iodization to prevent iodine deficiency disorders," said Mannar. "In the last year alone, 6.7 million newborns from mental impairment were protected from mental impairment through our iodization programs."

New initiatives the organization will spearhead with this funding include a central salt iodization facility in Ethiopia, where iodized salt consumption has dropped dramatically in recent years; the reestablishment of Child Health Days in Haiti to provide a package of health interventions including life-saving vitamin A supplementation to children; and multiple micronutrient programs reaching the most vulnerable in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

For more information, please visit: www.micronutrient.org

About the Micronutrient Initiative
The Micronutrient Initiative is an Ottawa-based, international not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that the world's most vulnerable - especially women and children - in developing countries get the vitamins and minerals they need to survive and thrive, through supplementation and food fortification programs. Its mission is to develop, implement and monitor innovative, cost effective and sustainable solutions for hidden hunger, in partnership with others. With Canadian support, the organization is reaching 500 million people annually in more than 70 countries with its child survival, child development and women's health programs.

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