Food fortification, which adds essential vitamins and minerals to foods, is an important strategy to fight malnutrition. The cost of food fortification to reduce widespread malnutrition can be as low as a few cents per individual per year for adding iodine to salt, and up to US$ 0.25 for more complex vitamins and minerals.
GAIN, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, supports public-private partnerships that are working to improve access to the missing nutrients in diets necessary for people to be stronger and healthier. Last month, GAIN launched a new major multi-sectoral partnership to provide vitamin A fortified vegetable oil to Indonesians that will reach over 80 percent of the population. GAIN will commit a US$ 3.5 million grant over the next 5 years to support oil refineries with the necessary equipment and training to produce fortified unbranded vegetable oil. In Indonesia, 40 percent of children under 5 years old are stunted (low height for age). One in five pre-school age children in Indonesia are deficient in vitamin A.
Set up in 2002 at a special session of the UN General Assembly on Children, GAIN has worked alongside more than 600 companies across 36 large-scale collaborations in more than 25 countries, reaching close to 400 million people with nutritionally enhanced food products. GAIN partners with business, governments, non-governmental organizations, international organizations, academia and other key players in the nutrition sector to deliver programs to vulnerable populations as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Targeted programmes deliver fortified food products including complementary foods and supplements to vulnerable population groups, including a premix; a commercially prepared blend of vitamins and minerals used to fortify staple foods.
GAIN is also part of international multi-sectoral initiatives that support countries in implementing policies for better nutrition such as the Flour Fortification Initiative, working to make flour fortification (involving iron, folic acid, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin A) a standard milling practice and also the Iodine Network, supporting universal salt iodization to eliminate iodine deficiency that is an easily preventable cause of mental retardation.