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Belizeans Lack Vitamin Intake says Belize National Survey

Ministry of Health share results of the Belize National Survey in Micronutrients BiomarkersBelmopan. August 7, 2013 – The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) concluded and presented the results of the Belize National Survey on Micronutrients Biomarkers to Ministry officials and stakeholders. The major findings indicate that Belize has a very low prevalence of the lack of Vitamin A intake, while the recommended level of Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 intake is not satisfactory posing as a public health concern.

The survey conducted during 2011-2012 was a national representative sample of 1,979 adults and children from across the country The objective of the survey was to assess the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies specifically Anemia (Iron deficiency), Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin A and Vitamin B12 among women of reproductive age 15-49 years old and children 6-59 months in Belize.

The findings show that Vitamin A deficiency is low in both women of reproductive age and in children with 1.2% and 1% respectively, while folic acid among women of reproductive age was considered to be very high directly relating to the high prevalence of neural tube defects in children.

The Ministry of Health remains committed to a comprehensive approach to the correction of micronutrient deficiencies. Current initiatives include the recent grant approval from the European Union of over five million dollars toward the improvement of mothers and newborn healthcare to reduce the incidence of mortality in children less than five. The Ministry has also engaged stakeholders in the discussion on food fortification. Studies show that countries who have implemented a program of food fortification have seen as much as a fifty percent reduction in birth abnormalities.

A working session to share the results of this survey and to engage stakeholders in the discussion on food fortification was held this past Tuesday in Belmopan facilitated by Dr. Natalia Beer of the Ministry of Health and Dr. Jorge Rosenthal, Epidemiologist, CDC.

Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin congratulates the team on effectively completing the first ever national micronutrients deficiency household survey for women and children in Belize, which now forms the foundation of evidence to inform our national response.

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