Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — WHO and UNICEF called on the Government of Việt Nam and State agencies to implement the Government’s Decree 09/2016/NĐ-CP that mandates the fortification of salt, wheat flour and vegetable oil.
The decree also mandates the use of fortified salt and wheat flour by the food industry.
The issuance of the decree is to step up actions to address severe micronutrient deficiencies among the Vietnamese population. The decree is in line with global recommendations on this highly cost-effective strategy to prevent and control micronutrient deficiency and highlights the Government’s commitment to improve the health of its population.
In a joint statement released on June 7, WHO and UNICEF noted that the decree had not been implemented even after more than two years of its adoption. This is despite the fact that food fortification, including the use of fortified food ingredients in processed foods, is already a global norm, with no detrimental impacts on the final food product or business profitability and sales.
“Food fortification contributes to a smart and healthy population, which benefits society and national development, including competitiveness. The Government of Việt Nam has acted positively to promote public health for the prevention and control of micronutrient deficiencies in the past two years and there is a need to continue,” the statement read.
WHO and UNICEF strongly recommended the Vietnamese Government to fully implement Decree 09, including ensuring that processed foods are made with iodised salt and fortified wheat flour and that companies are supported to ensure compliance.
According to the two world bodies, the main sources of dietary salt and wheat flour intake in Việt Nam are processed food and meals consumed outside the home. Thus, mandatory food enrichment as regulated in Decree 09 is not detrimental to business and the industry. Food producers and distributors should be supported with clear guiding regulations on compliance requirements and use of fortified ingredients.
“An important note is that the mandatory fortification of salt, wheat flour and vegetable oil are channels of operationalisation of the recent Communist Party’s Resolution No 20/NQ-TW to improve public health. The enforcement of Government regulations strengthens the human capital of Việt Nam and is in line with the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition,” read the statement.
Iodine deficiency is a significant cause of intellectual disabilities in children and stillbirth and miscarriage in women. Việt Nam is among the 19 countries of the world with the most iodine deficiency.
According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2011, only 45 per cent of households in Việt Nam consume iodised salt, which is far below the 90 per cent global recommendation on universal salt iodisation. Nearly 30 per cent of the under-five Vietnamese children and 37 per cent of pregnant women are anaemic. Zinc deficiencies, too, have been found to be very high among children (69 per cent) and pregnant women (80 per cent), according to WHO. — VNS