May 11, 2014 News
… Nutrition programme rated overall success
The Ministry of Health is looking to develop a formula of micro-nutritional supplements that would be provided to children up to age five, the country’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud says.
The supplement is currently given to pregnant mothers, and once they deliver, the supplement is provided to their babies from the age of six months to two years.
Dr Persaud said that the programme has been successful in fighting back anaemia, and achieving overall goals of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.
Since 2002, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has supported the effort of the government to reduce early childhood malnutrition.
The Bank has said that malnutrition in Guyana is high by international standards, particularly among children between six months and two years old. Low birth weight and stunted growth are relatively high in Guyana compared to other countries, the Bank stated, noting that this is especially true in rural Amerindian communities, where rates of chronic malnutrition are higher.
The infant Sprinkles contain iron, vitamin A and vitamin C, while Sprinkles for pregnant women has folic acid, iron and vitamin C.
The supplement is provided to all pregnant women who sign up for services at primary health care facilities across Guyana.
“Using the sprinkles prevented me from becoming anaemic during my pregnancy and after breastfeeding Aneisa for six months, I began mixing the sprinkles with her porridges,” said Bibi Ramcharran, who was interviewed by the IDB for a report on the success of the programme.
She said the sprinkles “opened up the appetite” of her baby and that her baby is very active and healthy because of this.
Dr Persaud said that a draft micro-nutrient study has been completed. It shows that the programme has resulted in overall success. The IDB had suggested that use of the “sprinkles” reduced overall cases of anaemia by around 30 percent among pregnant women and children under five years old.
He said the final report could be released soon. As a result, he said a supplement is now being developed that could be given to children up to age five.
The “sprinkles” programme is currently being funded by the IDB under the Ministry of Health’s Basic Nutrition Programme.
When the programme was launched back in 2004, then Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy said that there are certain micro-nutrient deficiencies when babies move on from consuming breast milk to solid foods.
The Ministry of Health had noted that children between the ages of six months and two-years show signs of anaemia as do pregnant women.
The ante-natal and infant sprinkles are distributed free of cost and pregnant women are automatically enlisted in the programme.
The sprinkles are produced locally by the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation.
Dr. Persaud said that even if IDB funding for the project expires, because of the success of the programme, the government will continue funding it. (Neil Marks)
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