Maintaining high vitamin A supplementation coverage in children: lessons from Niger

Food Nutr Bull. 2005 Mar;26(1):26-31. doi: 10.1177/156482650502600103.

Abstract

In 1997, the reduction of child mortality became a policy priority for the Government of Niger because Niger's child mortality rate was the highest in the world. The Ministry of Public Health, Helen Keller International (HKI), and UNICEF spearheaded a coalition-building process linking vitamin A deficiency (VAD) control to national child survival goals. An evidence-based advocacy strategy was developed around the child survival benefits of adequate and sustained VAD control with one unambiguous message: "VAD control can avert over 25,000 child deaths per year." As a result, in 1997 Niger became one of the first countries in Africa to effectively integrate vitamin A supplementation into National Immunization Days (NIDs) for polio eradication. The challenge was then to provide children with a second annual dose of vitamin A. This led in 1999 to the first ever National Micronutrient Days (NMDs) in Africa. NMDs are mobilization campaigns in which caregivers are actively encouraged to take their children for the delivery of vitamin A supplements. Since 1999, the combination of NIDs and NMDs has ensured that over 80% of children 6 to 59 months of age receive two vitamin A doses annually. The success of NIDs/NMDs has relied on five pillars: leadership and ownership by the Ministry of Public Health; district-level planning and implementation; effective training and flexible delivery mechanisms; effective social information, communication, and mobilization; and responsiveness and flexibility of Ministry of Public Health and development partners. This successful approach has been widely disseminated, notably through the West African Nutrition Focal Points Network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Food, Fortified
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality*
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Male
  • Niger / epidemiology
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy*
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / mortality

Substances

  • Vitamin A