Control of vitamin A deficiency in Vietnam: achievements and future orientation

Food Nutr Bull. 2002 Jun;23(2):133-42. doi: 10.1177/156482650202300202.


Vitamin A deficiency is one of the major nutritional deficiencies in Vietnam. The first survey, conducted in 1985-1988 showed that the prevalence of severe xerophthalmia was seven times higher than the cutoff point established by the World Health Organization (WHO) to define vitamin A deficiency as a public health problem. The result of this survey strongly convinced the government to launch a program to control vitamin A deficiency, which started in 1988. The program strategies included nutrition education, universal distribution of high-dose vitamin A capsules to children aged 6 to 36 months in combination with national immunization days, and promotion of production and consumption of vitamin A-rich foods at the family level. The implementation network was set up based on the existing preventive health structure at all administrative levels. Organizations such as the women's union and other social sectors have participated actively in the program. Surveys conducted in 1994 and 1998 showed that the prevalence of clinical xerophthalmia was significantly lower than that identified in the baseline survey and below the WHO criteria for a public health problem. The achievements of our program have demonstrated that an effective vitamin A supplementation program can be implemented successfully by the preventive health network with active community participation. In the coming years, it will be important for our program to develop approaches other than vitamin A supplementation in order to maintain the past achievements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Health Planning / trends*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Milk, Human
  • Vietnam / epidemiology
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin A / blood
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Xerophthalmia / drug therapy*
  • Xerophthalmia / epidemiology


  • Vitamin A