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Micronutrient deficiencies among children, women must be removed

01 November 2022

National Micronutrient Survey 2019-20 revealed that around 20 per cent of under-five children suffer from iodine deficiency. The first-ever iodine status has raised questions on the efficacy of the government's Universal Salt Iodization strategy. An alarming 70 per cent of non-pregnant and non-lactating women have vitamin D deficiencies in addition to their deficiencies in other micronutrients in different percentages.
Carried out by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics in 250 Upazilas from every district, the aim of the survey was to understand the status of vitamin A, Vitamin D, Zinc, Ferritin, Urinary Iodine, and Anemia among children and non-pregnant and non-lactating, women of reproductive age. The findings suggest that children under five years of age, and non-pregnant and non-lactating women in the country still significantly lack micronutrients. The results of the survey will help prepare a strategy for combating food and nutrition insecurity and identifying appropriate interventions. Among the under-5 children, 31 per cent had zinc deficiency, 20 per cent had iodine deficiency, and 15 percent had iron deficiency. In the case of vitamins, 22 per cent had vitamin D deficiency, and 7 per cent of children had moderate vitamin A deficiency.
The findings provide direction for policymakers to design the next-generation nutrition programmes in the 5th health sector programme in Bangladesh. Compared to findings from the 2011-12 survey, the micronutrient deficiency status among this group showed improvement in three indicators (vitamin A, zinc, iodine). It worsened in three indicators (serum iron, Folate). The status remained unchanged in case of vitamin B12. National estimate of micronutrient deficiency would direct the implementation plan of micronutrient supplementation programmes for children, non-pregnant and non-lactating women.
Ongoing poverty, starvation, and feared famine may worsen the nutrition situation among the citizens. We ask the government to involve social organisations to inform people of proper nutrition intake involving lower prices. Micronutrient-enriched rice and wheat must be popularised among the people.

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