The Ministry of Health and Medical Services on Thursday has congratulated Delite Industries in undertaking the fortification of their flour.
This means Solomon Islanders will be less vulnerable to disease, after the country’s flour miller began adding essential vitamins and minerals to their product last week.
This is a significant achievement for Solomon Islands,’ said MHMS Permanent Secretary Dr Tenneth Dalipanda.
Fortification, or adding essential vitamins and minerals to grains such as flour and rice in the milling process, is an effective strategy for boosting nutrition, and is adopted internationally, including in Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Nutrients will now be added to flour and included in flour-based products produced in the country, such as navy biscuits, bread, and ring cakes, which make up an increasing proportion of Solomon Islanders’ diets.
Added nutrients will include thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin, folic acid (vitamin B9), iron and zinc.
The colour, taste and texture of flour-based products will not change.
Fortification of flour is required under the Pure Food (Food Control) Regulations 2010. This means that all wheat flour imported into or produced in the country must provide minimum levels of nutrients, to help protect our people from nutritional deficiencies.
“In the Solomon Islands, nearly one in two women of child bearing age and one in two children under five are anemic because they are not getting enough iron, folic acid or zinc in their diets. This means that half our children are limited in their academic success” said Dr Dalipanda.
“In addition, one in three children under five are not growing to the expected height for their age, while 8.5% are severely stunted or have low height for their age, indicating long term, chronic under nutrition in the country.
‘The extremely high rates of anaemia and stunting in the Solomon Islands are a severe public health problem. Our women and children are not getting a diverse range of local food, a situation that can lead to long term impacts on health and productivity.
‘Under nutrition makes our people more vulnerable to illness, holding back individuals and whole economies. Fortification is an effective strategy for addressing this, as is the consumption of a balanced diet which includes at least five servings of fruits and vegetables everyday” said Dr Dalipanda.
You can help ensure you and your family gets enough iron for a healthy body and brain by eating iron-rich, green leafy vegetables such as slippery cabbage, fern, kangkung or sweet potato leaf, with tomatoes, chilli or lime juice.
Red meat, chicken and fish (particularly Mackeral) also contain iron, which is easy for the body to digest.
The MHMS would like to thank all members of the Food Fortification National Committee for supporting food fortification in the country, including the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Delite Flour Mill, Solomon Rice Company Ltd (Solrice), the Food Fortification Initiative, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Government of Australia.
By SOLOMON STANBLE LOFANA