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Two organisations team up to tackle iron deficiency and reduce maternal mortality in Africa

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From left: Dan Conley, Communications Director, Fortify; Toyin Saraki, CEO Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Nancy Martin, CEO Fortify, and Bryan Pearson, Director, Fortify

The World Health Organisation argues that maternal mortality is unacceptably high. It notes that about 295,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth in 2017. The vast majority of these deaths (94 per cent) occurred in low-resource settings, and most could have been prevented.

It states that sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia accounted for approximately 86 per cent (254,000) of the estimated global maternal deaths in 2017. Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounted for roughly two-thirds (196,000) of maternal deaths, while Southern Asia accounted for nearly one-fifth (58,000).

It is in the spirit of addressing this that two organisations have come together to find some solution to the problems of maternal mortality in Africa that is caused by iron deficiency.

The Fortify and The Wellbeing Foundation Africa have announced a partnership to tackle iron deficiency, identified as a major factor of maternal deaths in developing countries.

In a press release copied to ghanabusinessnews.com, the groups note that iron deficiency is the most widespread public health disorder in the world, affecting at least one-third of the global population.

According to the release, in the absence of adequate interventions, Fortify works to drive innovation in the private sector, guiding companies to add iron to everyday meals through the fortification of simple, healthy foods consumed by most families.

It notes that Fortify is working with leading food producers resulting in the monthly production of 20 million sachets of iron-fortified tomato paste varieties in Nigeria alone. Production and distribution in Ghana are expected later this year, it added.

The release indicates that the partnership with the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA), a Nigeria-based non-governmental organization dedicated to maternal, newborn and child health, brings substantial resources to support Fortify’s work. In addition to its relationships with governments and institutions in West Africa and globally, WBFA has the infrastructure and network to educate community health workers and families about the potentially life-saving benefit of consuming this improved version of tomato paste, a West African staple.

Commenting, Nancy Martin, Fortify’s Founder and CEO said, “Joining forces with the Wellbeing Foundation at this juncture could not be better timing. Now that iron-fortified tomato mixes are reaching even the most rural villages, we can jointly work to help educate health care workers and women about the importance of adding iron to their diets.”

“When we began discussions with Fortify, I was struck by how elegant yet practical a solution this is for iron deficiency anemia in that tomato paste is already built into the food supply and is a big part of meals every African eats,” Mrs. Toyin Ojora Saraki said.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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