Project Healthy Children works closely with governments, private industries, and partner agencies to design and implement food fortification programs that improve the health of children, women, and men around the world every time they eat a meal. Project Healthy Children (PHC) is one of The Life You Can Save's recommended charities, and most recently aided the Liberian government in spearheading a successful food fortification program. Learn more about PHC's cost-effective work in Liberia in this month's Success Story from The Life You Can Save.
Thanks to the work of Project Healthy Children, Liberia published its revised food fortification standards in November 2013, making the import and production of fortified food products–including wheat flour, cooking oil, sugar, and salt–both mandatory and legally binding. PHC's success in Liberia has brought us closer to our goal of designing and implementing comprehensive food fortification programs in seven countries, which will benefit 70 million people.
The new fortification standards are in line with national consumption patterns and harmonized with the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) region to ensure maximum impact for the Liberian people, especially women and children, who are affected most by micronutrient malnutrition.
Project Healthy Children is extremely proud of Liberia’s National Fortification Alliance and the hard work that they have put into the establishment of these standards. PHC could not have reached its benchmark in Liberia without the support of its donors and the excellent work of devoted individuals from the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the National Standards Laboratory, the Ministry of Information, as well as a dedicated industry and international community.
Project Healthy Children's work and research
PHC starts with a door-to-door survey of the population by sending teams of women across the country with the latest electronic surveying technology to interview hundreds of mothers. PHC learns what foods are eaten, how they are prepared and stored, the quantities consumed, and how the food is purchased. If already-existing surveys can provide this data (e.g. HCES and CFNS), PHC utilizes that where appropriate to obtain inferred consumption in order to avoid duplicate efforts. Finally, PHC collects the information to quantify what micronutrient deficiencies exist.
With this data, PHC uses their expertise to recommend which foods should be fortified, with which micronutrients, and at what quantities. All their work is under the direction and guidance of the local government. During this phase, there’s often a need to pass legislation or governmental decrees, which play an important role.
Once the levels are determined, PHC works with industry to assist them in implementing the policies mandated by the government. Most food manufacturers are already familiar with the concept of food fortification; the long-term costs are insignificant, and industry recognizes the enduring benefit of helping the country they work in.
Finally, PHC helps the country to design and implement a monitoring and evaluation system to ensure appropriate amounts of premix are being added to the food and to assist governments to ensure that years from now the policies adopted by their country are still being implemented and are having an impact.