A single, oral dose of vitamin A, given to infants shortly after birth can reduce the risk of death in the developing world by 15 percent, according to a study released this week.
Simple, affordable life-saving measures, such as exclusive breastfeeding, immunization, insecticide-treated bed nets and vitamin A supplementation, have helped to reduce child deaths in recent years, according to UNICEFs The State of the Worlds Children 2008 report.
South Africas food fortification programme was generating interest throughout the continent, but it was too early to determine the impact on the health of South Africans, a World Health Organisation (WHO) affiliate said.
By Brigitte Stark-Merklein. LUANDA, Angola, 21 June 2006 With excitement about the 2006 FIFA World Cup at a peak, Angolan star players are among the most recognizable role models here, inspiring a sense of achievement much appreciated in this war-ravaged country.
It has long been known that malnutrition undermines economic growth and perpetuates poverty. Yet the international community and most governments in developing countries have failed to tackle malnutrition over the past decades, even though well-tested approaches for doing so exist. The consequences of this failure to act are now evident in the world's inadequate progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and toward poverty reduction more generally.
World Health Organisation conference on Nutrition, ICC Durban South Africa 10-13 April 2005, Participants' Statement
HIV/AIDS is affecting more people in eastern and southern Africa than our fragile health systems can treat, demoralizing more children than our educational systems can inspire, creating more orphans than communities can care for, wasting families and threatening our food systems.
UK scientists have developed a new genetically modified strain of golden rice, producing more beta-carotene.
A multivitamin and mineral supplement with a local cost of about 60p a month has been found to enhance survival of HIV-positive people with less than 200 CD4 cells unable to access HAART, according to a Thai study published in the latest issue of the journal, AIDS. The Thai study is the first ever double-blind placebo-controlled randomised trial to assess the clinical significance of vitamins and minerals in people with HIV, and offers some small comfort to those people living in countries where access to HAART is limited or non-existent. The study was undertaken by a multinational team spearheaded by the Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in co-operation with the Thai Ministry of Public Health. Just under 500 people with CD4 counts between 50 and 550 cells/mm3 were enrolled in the trial at Siriraj Hospital, Bangkok between March 2000 and January 2001. 242 were randomly assigned to the supplement arm and 239 to the placebo arm. Neither doctor nor patient knew which pills they were receiving, since both supplements and placebo were prepared to look exactly the same. The pills were taken twice a day after food. The total daily vitamin/mineral doses contained within the pills were: Vitamin A 3000 µg,Beta-carotene 6 mg,Vitamin D3 20 µg,Vitamin E 80 mg, Vitamin K 180 µg,Vitamin C 400 mg, Vitamin B1 24 mg,Vitamin B2 15 mg, Vitamin B6 40 mg,Vitamin B12 30 µg, Folacin 100 µg, Pantothenic acid 40 mg, Iron 10 mg, Magnesium 200 mg, Manganese 8 mg, Zinc 30 mg, Iodine 300 µg Copper 3 mg, Selenium 400 µg, Chromium 150 µg, Cystine 66 mg. CD4 counts were taken at baseline from all participants, and the first consecutive 140 (71 in active and 69 in placebo arm) participants also had measurements of plasma viral load and vitamin E and selenium levels. At the end of 48 weeks, 23 (5%) had died and 379 (79%) were known to have survived. The rest were lost to follow-up. Eight deaths occurred in the supplement and 15 in the placebo arm. The mortality rate was significantly lower in the supplement arm in those who began the study with CD4 counts below 200 cells/mm3. For those with CD4 counts between 101-200 cells/mm3 the mortality hazard ratio was 0.37; 95% CI 0.13-1.06; p=0.052, and for those with CD4 counts below 100 cells/mm3 the mortality hazard ratio was 0.26; 95% CI 0.07-0.97; p=0.03. No impact was seen, however, on hospital admissions, CD4 cell count or plasma viral load, which, say the study’s authors “highlights the need to measure impact against clinical endpoints rather than on surrogate markers, as the beneficial effects would have been missed if only surrogate markers had been measured.” Whether the same supplements would make a difference to survival in countries where macronutrient malnutrition is endemic - in particular, sub-Saharan Africa - is difficult to ascertain given that all previous studies on micronutrient supplementation have taken place in well-fed populations. This week an editorial by Professor JP van Niekerk in the South African Medical Journal criticises a diet rich in many of the micronutrients studied in Thailand that is being touted by South Africa’s Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang Manto, as a way to improve HIV survival. We should eat garlic because of its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, lemon because of Vitamin C and olive oil as a source of Vitamin A and E, she told an audience in Gauteng in August this year. All these vitamins are good antioxidants and they are good for everybody. But Tshabalala-Msimang's is being criticised less for her lemon, garlic and olive oil diet -although these ingredients have not been proven to impact HIV disease progression - more because they were suggested as an alternative to the S.A. government providing antiretrovirals to their people many of whom cannot always afford basics like bread and clean water. When the poor purchase the product, its price limits the purchase of other wholesome foods, which in turn is likely to adversely affect (the poor's) nutritional status, writes Professor van Niekerk. Nevertheless the authors of the Thai study strongly suggest that a trial of multivitamin-mineral supplements begin urgently in Africa “because if micronutrient supplementation can provide a small amount of benefit and defer the initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy, this could have high public health importance in Africa.” Related publications: Nutrition booklet Full document at http://www.aidsmap.com/publications/infoseries/nutrition_03.pdf Vitamins andminerals :http://www.aidsmap.com/treatments/ixdata/english/2431734d-f2fc-473f-aec9-5ae7dd39beec.htm High doses of vitamin C lower indinavir levels http://www.aidsmap.com/news/newsdisplay2.asp?newsId=2298 Reference: Jiamton et al. A randomized trial of the impact of multiple micronutrient supplementation on mortality among HIV-infected individuals living in Bangkok AIDS 17:2461-2469, 2003.(Source: aidscap 13 Nov. 2003).
One third of South African children have low levels of vitamin A in the blood, a quarter suffer from malnutrition-related stunted growth, one in 10 are deficient in iron and one in eight are underweight. But there is little that parents on low to middle incomes can do to rectify their children's nutrition problems. To provide a completely healthy and balanced diet to three children aged 15, 10 and six years is costly, at current prices, almost R800 a month.This is equivalent to the entire monthly wage of some domestic workers and 66 percent of the official minimum wage. A survey by Professor Johan Potgieter of Port Elizabeth shows that keeping children healthy is expensive. He estimates that one to three-year-olds cost R162 per month, four to six-year-olds R213 monthly while seven to 10-year-olds will cost parents R246 every four weeks. The price of keeping a child healthy rises with their age.( Source : The Mercury, 15 October 2002)