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Project Healthy Children

All families are created equal, but not all families are treated equally!

2.8 million children under 5 years of age die every year from causes related to malnutrition. That is more than 7,700 deaths a day, not to mention the many more who suffer from debilitating malnutrition-related diseases and disabilities. Yet with simple, inexpensive, basic nutritional support – vitamins and minerals – these children can have a fighting chance of surviving and thriving.

Project Healthy Children (PHC) works with national governments and manufacturers to fortify staple foods with essential micronutrients such as iron, folic acid and iodine, protecting populations from debilitating conditions caused by malnutrition. PHC sees that essential micronutrients reach even the most vulnerable populations, an an average cost of 25 cents per person per year.

PHC currently operates food fortification programs in Rwanda, Malawi, Liberia, Burundi, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. The organization successfully completed a program in Honduras in 2010. Worldwide, PHC’s food fortification programs benefit more than 55 million people.

 

The Problem

Micronutrient malnutrition. Over two billion people don’t get necessary vitamins and minerals such as iron, vitamin A, folic acid and iodine in their diets. This micronutrient malnutrition, often referred to as “hidden hunger,” leads to preventable blindness, increased rates of miscarriage, maternal death during childbirth, birth defects, compromised immune systems, and cognitive and developmental delays. Micronutrient malnutrition is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities in the world.

The Solution

Cost-effective food fortification programs. Food fortification is one of the least expensive solutions to many of the diseases and conditions associated with extreme poverty. At around 25 cents per person a year, micronutrient fortification is one of the most cost-effective preventative health measures available.

Why PHC is different from other charities

PHC is a global leader in micronutrient fortification, working with governmental and NGO partners to design, implement, scale, and monitor effective food fortification programs. PHC's initiatives are based on evidence from economic- and science-backed results. Most importantly, PHC’s mission is to ensure that they do not become a permanent part of a country's food distribution and health systems; they help launch successful initiatives and excel at finding sustainable ways for the governments to continue that work without a permanent presence. Given the current phase of PHC’s large-scale fortification programs, emphasis is on establishing strong regulatory monitoring structures to ensure that fortified products contain correct amounts and types of vitamins and minerals needed for nutritional impact on target populations.

Why PHC is effective

Rigorously researched and targeted programming

Before commencing operations, PHC looks at existing data and undertakes wide-ranging surveys of eating patterns to discover which foods to fortify and with which micronutrients. It then carefully tailors its programs to reach as many people as possible.

Cost-effective and designed for scale

Establishing a nationwide fortification program costs $250,000 to $500,000, which covers around two-thirds of the population. On average, it costs 25 cents per year to fortify food for one person.

Proven results

Food fortification is a tried and true measure for combating diseases associated with extreme poverty. Adding iron to soy sauce in China led to a one-third drop in anaemia. And within a year of adding folic acid to wheat flour in Chile, spina bifida incidences were reduced by 51 percent.

Economically productive

Food fortification takes pressure off healthcare systems by preventing illness and disease; these measures also help to grow developing economies. In 2008 the Copenhagen Consensus estimated that each dollar spent on iron and iodine fortification could yield over $9 in economic benefit.

High Impact

PHC’s accountability and sustainability

PHC is recommended by The Life You Can Save and Giving What We Can, is noted as Standout Charity by rigorous evaluator GiveWell, and has been chosen to receive a "top charity participation grant" from Good Ventures.

PHC publishes its metrics of success report online, which details how the organization measures impact, performance, process, and cost-effectiveness. On a budget of just $750,000 per year, PHC currently oversees food fortification programs that benefit more than 55 million people.

PHC works with governments to design and implement monitoring and evaluation systems, to ensure that fortification is still being implemented and is still working years down the line, even once PHC’s involvement has come to an end.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is food fortification safe?

Yes. Many countries have safely fortified foods for decades. In the US, for example, common table salt is routinely fortified with iodine--which has been proven to prevent physical and intellectual development disorders. Once fortification begins, the producers test each batch of food to make sure it has been correctly fortified. Government bodies periodically make independent checks at factories to validate the accuracy of the producer's tests.

What foods can be fortified?

Target foods should be (a) eaten in consistent quantities by large numbers of people, (b) compatible with the micronutrients being added (meaning they won't cause changes in color, taste, or shelf life) and (c) relatively inexpensive so that low-income families can benefit. Successful examples include salt, sugar, oil, margarine, milk, wheat flour, maize meal, rice, tortilla mix, soy sauce, and bouillon cubes.

 

Why does The Life You Can Save recommend Project Healthy Children?

We recommend PHC because they have been named a Standout Charity by GiveWell, a highly respected charity evaluator. 

Will my donation be tax-deductible?

Donations to PHC are tax-deductible for US donors. UK donors can claim gift aid by donating through EA Funds. Canadian donors may give through Rethink Charity Forward.

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