According to the company, Fortitech Asia Pacific won a technical and financial bid against other international suppliers. Fortitech The company will partner with Akzo Nobel, maker of branded Ferrazone XF. The market opportunities for such fortification contracts in developing countries given that UNICEF has identified iron deficiency as the most sweeping nutritional problem facing the world. According to the global agency, the area has seen little improvement, unlike vitamin A and iodine. Between four and five billion people worldwide are deficient in iron, reports the UN, and an estimated 2 billion are anaemic. The problem is particularly insidious in women and children, with 50 percent of pregnant women and between 40 and 50 percent of children under five in developing countries iron deficient. "It also causes a range of other problems in millions of people, including impaired cognitive development in children, fatigue, maternal mortality and low productivity in the workplace," said Ram Chaudhari, co-founder and chief scientific officer Fortitech. Fortitech and Akzo Nobel claim research into Ferrazone has demonstrated it is absorbed into the human body two to four times better than with other iron compounds. "This is a triumph for the scientific community who has toiled for so many years to show that FeNaEDTA is probably the best source of iron in many cases to combat iron deficiency anemia," said Geoff Smith, global director of chelates for health at Akzo Nobel. While UNICEF sees promoting iron-rich foods as the primary means of reducing iron deficiency, it also recommends fortifying staples as an alternative in order to reach large populations. The Pakistan Ministry of Health is launching the large scale national wheat fortification program in part to reduce the high occurrence of iron deficiency and anemia in the country. The national wheat flour fortification program is partly funded by the GAIN Foundation, a global alliance that promotes food fortification for improving the health of vulnerable populations. "This is an exemplary example of public-private partnership to improve the quality of lives of the population,…," said Regina Moench-Pfanner, senior manager with the GAIN Foundation. "We congratulate the Pakistan Government in taking this bold, concrete step." Fortitech Asia Pacific is currently strengthening its operations in the region with the construction of a new facility in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.