As part of a series of case-studies on population-level zinc interventions, Ann Tarini (Independent Consultant), Ismael Teta, Alex Ndjebayi and Jules Guintang Assiene (Helen Keller International, Cameroon) and Reina Engle-Stone (UC Davis) have summarised the Cameroon experience of implementing wheat flour fortification to address zinc deficiency in a new IZiNCG brief.
Food fortification is one of three main strategies to address zinc deficiency in a population. This six page brief covers key program milestones, the rationale for wheat flour fortification, early program impact, a commentary on sustainability, and key lessons learned.
But perhaps most importantly, it highlights the power of data. Prior to 2009, no information was available on the status of zinc and several other micronutrients in Cameroon. In 2009, the Ministry of Public Health conducted a National Micronutrient Survey; the availability of data on plasma zinc concentration enabled the identification of zinc deficiency as a public health problem, and dietary intake data helped identify possible fortification vehicles along with their potential impact. The measurement of plasma zinc concentrations in the two major urban centers in 2012 enabled inference about program impact. And without monitoring data, it would not have been possible to identify and address the faltering of the program in 2016.
We hope Cameroon’s experience can provide inspiration and guidance to other countries considering zinc fortification.
IZiNCG Research Projects: Zinc Fortification Task Force
IZiNCG Technical Brief no. 4: Zinc Fortification