Control of micronutrient deficiencies in India: obstacles and strategies.


Nutr Rev. 2002 May;60(5 Pt 2):S73-6.


Vijayaraghavan, K.


Control of micronutrient deficiencies in India: obstacles and strategies.

Micronutrient deficiencies of vitamin A, iron, and iodine continue to be of public health significance in India. The government of India initiated national programs to prevent, control and combat these deficiencies and their serious consequences. The interventions involved (1) distribution of iodized salt in the endemic areas, (2) administration of semiannual massive dose of vitamin A to young children, and (3) distribution of iron-folic acid tablets to the vulnerable groups. Evaluations revealed that the biologic impact of these interventions was unsatisfactory. Inadequate allocation of funds (10% of the actual needs) necessary to cover the enormous number of beneficiaries was one of the important obstacles. Consequently, the allocation of supplies to different provinces was far short of the requirements (10-30%). As a result of poor orientation, the functionaries were not adhering to the guidelines, leading to woefully inadequate (1-20%) and irregular coverage. There was no proper monitoring or supervision to make midcourse corrections to improve the functioning. The community was not informed of the purpose and details of each intervention. Hence, it did not utilize the resources completely and remained passive recipients. The community was not aware of the dietary approaches to prevent micronutrient disorders owing to absence of nutrition education. With the adoption of National Nutrition Policy by the government of India, a concerted and focused approach should be adopted. The future strategies should include a mix of short-term supplementation and food-based strategy encompassing food fortification and home gardening. Innovative approaches in information, education, and communication (such as social marketing strategy) for making the interventions sustainable should be adopted.

Authors: Vijayaraghavan, K.

Journal: Nutr Rev. 2002 May;60(5 Pt 2):S73-6.

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