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The prevalence of maternal anaemia remains unacceptably high in developing countries. At the same time, the percentage of women who consume one or more Fe+folic acid (IFA) tablets during pregnancy remains persistently low. The objective of the present study was to identify where, within antenatal care (ANC) programmes, pregnant women falter in obtaining and consuming an ideal minimum of 180 IFA tablets.
Data from Demographic and Health Surveys were used to develop a schematic which identifies four sequential ‘falter points’ to consuming 180 IFA tablets: ANC attendance, IFA receipt or purchase, IFA consumption and the number of tablets consumed.
Twenty-two countries with high burdens of undernutrition.
A sample of 162 958 women, 15 to 49 years of age, with a live birth in the past 5 years.
Across all countries, 83 % of all pregnant women had at least one ANC visit, 81 % of whom received IFA tablets. Of those receiving IFA tablets, 95 % consumed at least one. Overall adherence to the ideal supplementation regimen, however, was extremely low: only 8 % consumed 180 or more IFA tablets. There were only two countries in which the percentage of pregnant women consuming 180 or more tablets exceeded 30 %.
While most women receive and take some IFA tablets, few receive or take enough. The analysis identifies where ANC-based distribution of IFA falters in each country. It enables policy makers to design and prioritize follow-up activities to more precisely identify barriers, an essential next step to improving IFA distribution through ANC.
Vitamin A deficiency is a serious health problem in Bangladesh. The 2011–12 Bangladesh Micronutrient Survey found 76·8 % of children of pre-school age were vitamin A deficient. In the absence of nationally representative, individual dietary assessment data, we use an alternative – household income and expenditure survey data – to estimate the potential impact of the introduction of vitamin A-fortified vegetable oil in Bangladesh.
Items in the household income and expenditure survey were matched to food composition tables to estimate households’ usual vitamin A intakes. Then, assuming (i) the intra-household distribution of food is in direct proportion to household members’ share of the household’s total adult male consumption equivalents, (ii) all vegetable oil that is made from other-than mustard seed and that is purchased is fortifiable and (iii) oil fortification standards are implemented, we modelled the additional vitamin A intake due to the new fortification initiative.
Nationwide in Bangladesh.
A weighted sample of 12240 households comprised of 55580 individuals.
Ninety-nine per cent of the Bangladesh population consumes vegetable oil. The quantities consumed are sufficiently large and, varying little by socio-economic status, are able to provide an important, large-scale impact. At full implementation, vegetable oil fortification will reduce the number of persons with inadequate vitamin A intake from 115 million to 86 million and decrease the prevalence of inadequate vitamin A intake from 80 % to 60 %.
Vegetable oil is an ideal fortification vehicle in Bangladesh. Its fortification with vitamin A is an important public health intervention.
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