More than 250 million under-fives in the world are at risk from vitamin A deficiency. Such deficiency, currently the primary cause of avoidable blindness, provides the conditions for diseases to take hold, leading to high death rates among these young children. Several strategic options exist for combating these deficiencies: medicinal supplements, vitamin A enrichment of foods at industrial or community scale, or diet diversification founded on the use of locally available resources. The latter approach was adopted, in a pilot project for promoting unrefined red palm oil in Burkina Faso. IRD scientists from the research unit "nutrition, diet, societies", working jointly with Canadian and Burkina researchers (1), ran a trial from 1999 to 2001. They tested the effectiveness of red palm oil on the vitamin A status of mothers and of under-fives in the East-Central part of the country, an area where it is not normally used.
Contact: Bndicte Robert
Institut de Recherche Pour le Dveloppement