March 2023

Towards a World Health Assembly resolution on food fortification

Over 50 global nutrition and health organizations have worked together to support the resolution “Accelerating efforts for preventing micronutrient deficiencies, spina bifida and other neural tube defects through safe and effective food fortification”, calling on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) executive board to put it on the agenda for consideration and passage at the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2023.

Millions of people around the world face the “hidden hunger” of micronutrient deficiency. Food fortification has been a proven solution to this problem for over 30 years. Many countries have implemented successful programs to add essential vitamins and minerals to widely consumed food items like wheat, maize flour, and salt. the widespread adoption of salt iodization programs has protected the brains of tens of millions of children over the past 3-4 decades. However, despite this progress, awareness and compliance with these programs are declining in many countries, leading to a rise in deficiencies. The WHA resolution, if passed, would support IGN and the many other organizations working in this area in advocating for large-scale food fortification programs.

IGN WHO Geneva

IGN’S Senior Advisor Arnold Timmer delivered a statement in support of the resolution at the February 3rd meeting of WHO’s executive board, demonstrating our commitment to improving the health and well-being of millions of people around the world. IGN, GAIN, the Micronutrient Forum and the other global nutrition and child health organizations that penned the letter of support for the resolution have long advocated for increased efforts to prevent micronutrient deficiencies, spina bifida, and other neural tube defects through safe and effective food fortification.

Reflecting on the experience, Arnold noted that “To have this important resolution adopted is a milestone for food fortification in general, including salt iodization, which is one of the most successful public health interventions in history. But iodine deficiency is still prevalent and governments need to be reminded that this very cost-effective intervention needs to remain in place. For IGN and all partners, this is a major success which will help its advocacy at country level through its extensive network.”

The resolution passed without objection and will be on the WHA agenda this May.

Through partnerships like these, we can ensure everyone has access to the essential vitamins and minerals they need to live healthy and productive lives.