US completes food fortification project in Tajikistan

DUSHANBE (TCA) — USAID/Central Asia Tajikistan Country Director Katherine Crawford, Deputy Speaker of Tajikistan’s Parliament Khayriniso Yusufi, and First Deputy Minister of Health and Social Protection of Population Saida Umarzoda last week gathered government officials, donor representatives, and other key stakeholders at a ceremony to celebrate and close the three-year project, Tajikistan Technical Support to Reduce Micronutrient Deficiencies. This project has been funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the US Embassy in Dushanbe said.

Since it began in 2015, the project has led efforts to reduce micronutrient deficiencies and improve health and nutrition. Tajikistan has very high rates of micronutrient deficiencies, which result in poor general health and can cause birth defects. However, large-scale food fortification – adding important vitamins and minerals to staple foods like wheat flour and salt – is a proven, cost-effective way to address this problem.

Over the last three years, the project has supported local partners in establishing a national program to fortify wheat flour with essential vitamins and minerals, and Tajikistan has accomplished a number of milestones including: building appropriate national systems to coordinate food fortification activities; drafting wheat flour fortification legislation; conducting assessments and studies to create a knowledge base for food fortification; providing training and laboratory equipment for regulatory agencies; and establishing the first national online birth defects registry to track the impact of food fortification on the health of the population.
Together these activities have established essential building blocks to improve the health and nutrition of the population. Additionally, the project demonstrated that there is a nine-dollar return on investment for every dollar invested in fortification, along with significant social and economic benefits for Tajikistan.

The project enabled nearly 20 flour milling companies to fortify wheat flour, trained 50 officers of regulatory agencies to monitor quality assurance and compliance, and trained approximately 150 medical statisticians to report appropriately in the national registry on birth defects. The project also worked with business and education sectors, and media.

The Tajikistan Technical Support Project to Reduce Micronutrient Deficiencies is one of the many assistance projects made possible by the American people through USAID and the collaboration of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection of Population. Over the last 25 years, the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe has provided more than $1.8 billion in programs that support Tajikistan’s security, democratic institutions, social sector, and economic growth.


Times of Central Asia