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SIGHT AND LIFE and VITAMIN ANGELS – Establish partnership to address vitamin A deficiency in India

Kaiseraugst, CH, 05 Jan 2011 12:00 CET

SIGHT AND LIFE and Vitamin Angels, two of the world’s outstanding independent humanitarian organizations dedicated to fighting malnutrition, are teaming up in an effort to attack vitamin A deficiencies in India. Both organizations strongly feel that by combining the unique strengths of each into one co-ordinated effort to address this issue, much more can be accomplished.

SIGHT AND LIFE has as its mission to ensure a sustainable and significant improvement in human nutrition, health and well-being through its commitment to fighting micronutrient deficiencies amongst the world’s poor. Meanwhile Vitamin Angels’ mission is to mobilize and deploy private sector resources to advance availability, access and use of vitamin A by newborns, infants and children most in need. Together these two organizations intend, through this recently announced initiative, to build on their individual advantages to foster local ownership of the problem of vitamin A deficiency in India, and catalyze a locally sustainable supply and distribution system in India. “Through this partnership SIGHT AND LIFE’s advocacy and technical expertise and Vitamin Angels successful implementation of universal vitamin A supplementation projects, aims to reach millions of those in India who have to date not had access to life-saving vitamin A” says Dr Klaus Kraemer, Director of SIGHT AND LIFE.

Some 535 million children around the world, between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, suffer from moderate to severe vitamin A deficiency, making it a global public health problem. Thirty seven percent of these children live in India, making addressing vitamin A deficiency in India a critical component of the global challenge to eliminate micronutrient deficiencies. While the Government of India fully supports initiatives for vitamin A supplementation and a large proportion of infants, children and lactating women receive supplementation, there remains a significant portion of the population that have yet to be reached.

While a visible indicator of vitamin A deficiency is xerophthalmia, an eye disorder that can lead to permanent blindness in children, many more suffering from vitamin A deficiency show no signs of xeropthalmia, but have a reduced ability to resist infections that can and does result in death and disability. Hence the reason that eliminating vitamin A deficiency is considered a critical intervention for child survival and maternal health programs.

Through the signing of this partnership, both partners hope to engage other international and Indian for-profit, non-profit and government entities to mobilize support and participate in this initiative, so as to harness innovative public-private partnerships to sustainably tackle the vitamin A deficiency epidemic in India and improve the lives of millions of infants, children and women.

About SIGHT AND LIFE

SIGHT AND LIFE is a non-profit humanitarian initiative of DSM. Since the founding in 1986, SIGHT AND LIFE has been championing the global fight against micronutrient deficiencies espousing the belief that the right mix of funds, knowledge, policy and technology will lead to prevention. More information: www.sightandlife.org

About VITAMIN ANGELS

Vitamin Angels is dedicated to reducing child mortality worldwide by advancing availability, access and use of essential micronutrients, especially Vitamin A, to newborns, infants and children under five. In 2010 Vitamin Angels will connect over 20,000,000 children in 40 countries, including the US, with the vital nutrients they need as a foundation for good health. To learn more about global malnutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and Vitamin Angels’ solution for change, visit www.vitaminangels.org

For more information on becoming involved with this India vitamin A initiative, contact Dr Klaus Kraemer on klaus.kraemer@dsm.com or Kim Saam on ksaam@vitaminangels.org