Prevention and control of iron deficiency: policy and strategy issues.
Substantial efforts have been made in the past several decades to implement programs to reduce iron deficiency. Yet, compared with other micronutrients such as vitamin A and iodine, overall progress in reducing iron deficiency has been limited. Such limited progress is not attributed to a lack of scientific knowledge about the prevalence, causes or consequences of iron deficiency, but to limited implementation of effective interventions and ineffective communication tools. The challenge is to coordinate and balance research efforts more constructively with the implementation of practical and effective intervention programs. More attention must be paid to evaluating the operational feasibility of various intervention strategies to demonstrate their effectiveness under normal field conditions. Moreover, intervention efforts must be supported by substantially increased attention to communications to achieve effective advocacy for policy support and resource mobilization, foster partnerships and alliances, clarify priority target groups, including infants and young children, and support behavioral change. Through collaboration, researchers, program implementers and communicators can achieve substantial progress in reducing iron deficiency.