The nonprofit organisation Vitamin Angel Alliance, is launching a new campaign this fall with the ambitious goal of eliminating vitamin A deficiency-related blindness in children by 2020.
The first year of a three-year initiative, funded with a grant from Johnson & Johnson, is aimed at protecting 6 million at-risk people. This phase includes administration of high-dose vitamin A supplements to 250,000 children in India, a country with at least 9 million blind.
"Vitamin A deficiency childhood blindness is a global health crisis of alarming proportions," said Howard Schiffer, executive director and founder of Vitamin Angel Alliance. "This ravaging form of blindness is preventable with vitamin A supplements at a cost of about five cents per child per year, and we will reach 6 million children, lactating mothers and infants in the three-year pilot program."
The campaign will target infants and children at critical stages of development, and lactating mothers to improve the nutrient status of infants, in Calcutta and other provinces in India.
Vitamin Angel Alliance has distributed vitamin A supplements donated by healthcare companies, since its founding in 1994, but the new campaign is a shift in focus, according to Schiffer.
"We are asking philanthropic organizations, or charitable arms of companies such as Johnson & Johnson, to donate funds to purchase enough vitamin A to treat the tens of millions of children around the world who are at risk of permanent blindness and early mortality," he said.
The high dose vitamin A will be accompanied by a tablet of Vermox, an anthelmintic which treats parasitic worms, improving the absorption of vitamin A.