IF visit to Interflour Group in Vietnam

Interflour Vietnam is the only milling company in Vietnam that enriches its flour with Folic Acid and other micronutrients. The company and IF have been longtime partners in the Flour Fortification Initiative, combatting micronutrient deficiency worldwide by fortifying flour with at least Folic Acid and Iron. CEO Shuitsu Sato and Milling Manager Arco Van Herk generously invited IF to their company in Vung Tau, Vietnam. "Folic Acid fortification of staple foods is the most effective way of raising folate levels in the whole population and the single most effective measure to reduce the incidence of Neural Tube Defects as Spina Bifida" said IF president Pierre Mertens in a presentation to the company's management. Wheat flour is a good vehicle to improve the micronutrient status in a population, extra initiatives are needed in regions where flour is not the main staple.
Milling Manager Arco Van Herk explains the industrial milling process to IF president Pierre Mertens at Interflour's flour mill in Vung Tau, Vietnam

WHO and European Commission adopt joint declaration

During the annual meeting of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in Moscow, Russian Federation, the WHO and the European Commission adopted a joint declaration, seeking to strengthen policy dialogue and technical cooperation on public health. The joint declaration calls for a more cohesive effort to improve health security throughout the WHO European Region. The declaration highlights the need for closer monitoring of health inequalities across the European Region and for exploring ways to combat them. It also underscores the importance of formal education in building healthy lifestyles. A coordinated effort will be made to facilitate the development of a new European health policy for the WHO European Region: an integrated framework for tackling existing health challenges on the wider European continent.

Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, and Mr John Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy (Photo: WHO/D. Ternovoy)

Concern over birth defect rates in China

Every year about 800,000 to 1.2 million Chinese babies are born with defects, indicating that a baby with defects is born every 30 seconds in China. Only between 20 and 30 percent of these infants can live a relatively good life after early diagnosis and proper treatments, while 30 to 40 percent will die shortly after birth. In addition, around 40 percent will have to live with permanent disabilities. According to Jiang Fan, deputy director of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, the best way to reduce such birth defects would be to prevent their occurrence in the first place. In 2009 the Chinese Ministry of Health decided to launch a health program to provide free folic acid supplements for 12 million rural women of child-bearing age, to help prevent birth defects in their future babies. In April 2010 a pilot was initiated to provide rural couples with free pre-pregnancy health checks.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that about 30 million families have children with some defects

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