Islamabad, PAKISTAN – Today, Nutrition International announced a new phase of its Food Fortification Programme in Pakistan with initial funding from the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation totalling CAD $5 million. Building on the first phase, which launched in 2016 with UK aid from the UK government, Nutrition International will work closely with the Government of Pakistan and private industry to reduce rates of malnutrition across the country.

“Large-scale food fortification is a high-impact, sustainable and cost-effective solution for many of the most common micronutrient deficiencies,” said Joel Spicer, president and CEO of Nutrition International. “We are proud to work alongside the government, the private sector and development partners across the country to build the best future possible for the people of Pakistan.”

For decades, malnutrition rates in Pakistan have remained alarmingly high. More than half of all women and children lack adequate levels of essential micronutrients needed for their bodies, brains and immune systems to develop fully – stunting their growth and potential, for life. As a result, the country loses 3% of its GDP (around USD $7.6 billion) every year due to the high burden of malnutrition.

“Food fortification is ranked one of the highest-return interventions in global development.”

“The Government of Pakistan is committed to fighting malnutrition across Pakistan, particularly where it impacts women, adolescent girls and children,” said Dr. Faisal Sultan, special assistant to the prime minister on health. “Nutrition International has been our trusted partner for over 20 years and we look forward to continuing our work to accelerate fortification and build a stronger and brighter future.”

The Government of Canada will contribute CAD $3 million to support the continued implementation of a large-scale food fortification program in Pakistan to fortify wheat flour and edible oil. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed an additional CAD $2 million to build the capacity of the Food Authority to ensure edible oil is adequately fortified, support millers to strengthen internal quality assurance and compliance, and digitize fortification data so that it can be used effectively for public health planning.

“Micronutrient deficiencies and their consequences can have devastating health impacts, particularly on women and girls,” said Christopher Khng, head of Development Cooperation, Canada’s High Commission to Pakistan. “Food fortification is ranked one of the highest-return interventions in global development and Canada is proud to continue to work with Nutrition International to deliver real results for the people of Pakistan.”

Nutrition International has been working with the Government of Pakistan to address malnutrition since 2001. This project builds on the successes of the Food Fortification Programme in Pakistan, which was delivered in collaboration with Mott MacDonald. Through work with key government and industry stakeholders more than 120 million people now have access to adequately fortified oil and more than 1,000 wheat flour mills are equipped with fortification equipment.