Children living in deprived areas often have a poor diet, because their families are unable to afford meat and vegetables. In addition, levels of high pollution in some areas of Egypt’s cities have been linked to weakening the immune system.
Over $2 billion is spent every year by the Egyptian government, to supply poor families with cheap bread, but the scheme is still failing to provide the essential vitamins and minerals that children need in their diet.
Figures from the National Nutrition Institute (NNI) revealed that the rate of iron deficiency anaemia that was recorded in children in 2010 was 46 per cent. This number had risen to 51 per cent this year and called on the government to take more action to respond to the growing problem.
With help from the United Nations Children’s Agency (UNICEF), the NNI has started to implement a programme that will give schoolchildren biscuits that have iron and folic acid in them.
The Egyptian authorities have also agreed to supply fortified bread flour after tests showed that it had no effect on the colour or taste of the bread they produce for deprived families. Extending fortification in bread across the country is set to cost over $10 million, but the government seem determined to press ahead with plans and even supply special mixing machines to bakeries.
This action comes as a growing number of health experts focus on the issues of nutritional deficiencies in children, as there is a much bigger recognition that nutrition-deficient children contract more diseases and achieve lower educational standards.
View the original SOS Children’s Villages article here.