In this podcast, Thomas Aarts, who is on the Vitamin Angels board of directors, tells Lorraine Heller about some of the group’s major programs and the impact they are having.
Operation 20/20 aims to get vitamin A to children who are deficient, in order to help prevent blindness and boost immunity.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified vitamin A as lacking in millions of people's diets throughout the third world, especially in Africa and South-East Asia. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children, yet it is thought to cause blindness in up to 500,000 children each year.
According to Vitamin Angels, one high-dose vitamin A capsule, given to a child twice a year for four years is enough to help prevent that child from going blind from VAD.
Vitamin A is also essential for proper immune function and maintenance of structural integrity of cells in humans.
“VAD is a major contributing cause to death and sickness among children under five from such common diseases as measles, malaria, acute respiratory tract infections and diarrhea. An estimated 147 million children under five worldwide are vitamin A deficient, the burden of which is concentrated in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Supplementation with vitamin A alone reduces infant and child mortality, combined, dramatically – by approximately 25 percent,” says Vitamin Angels.
The group’s Thrive to Five program distributes multi-vitamins to children and pregnant and lactating women.
Essential micronutrient supplements containing selected vitamins and nutrients (particularly vitamin A, iron, iodine, folate and zinc) are believed to mitigate against the effects of malnutrition among children under five.
Individually and combined, essential micronutrients are important for proper immune function, structural integrity of cells, and cognitive development of infants and children, says Vitamin Angels.
“Therefore, essential micronutrient supplements can not only reduce deaths and sickness among children but also promote educational development which is recognized to be positively linked to economic development.”
“Each year about 10,000,000 children under five die and about a third of these deaths are due to malnutrition. With approximately 54,000,000 new children afflicted each year by malnutrition and given the immediate and long-term consequences, all avenues for reducing malnutrition are urgently needed.”
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