Interventions for micronutrient deficiencies
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There are several potential interventions to address micronutrient deficiencies in emergency-affected populations:
- Provide a more varied diet. This is very difficult. The major source of many essential micronutrients is fresh food, particularly fruit, meat, vegetables, and dairy products. It is very difficult to procure, ship, store, and distribute such food to large populations who are often located in remote places. Markets within the population can sometimes supply more varied foodstuffs, but people often do not have the money to purchase food in a market.
- Provide micronutrient supplements to groups as risk. For example, give all pregnant women iron tablets to prevent the development of iron deficiency anaemia during the pregnancy. However, supplementation programmes have notoriously low coverage and compliance. For these reasons, they do not often have a large effect on micronutrient deficiency.
- Fortify the relief food distributed. This has become the most common intervention; however, because fortified relief food is more expensive than unfortified food, programmes on tight budgets sometimes cannot afford it. Also, fortification does not work well for some micronutrients. For example, vitamin C is relatively unstable and does not last in foods which are stored for a long time or cooked at high temperatures.