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30 November 2014
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today reaffirmed Canada’s ongoing commitment to saving the lives of women and children by announcing significant additional support for the Canadian-based Micronutrient Initiative (MI). The Prime Minister made the announcement during a visit to the Kip Carrière Health Post in Bargny, Senegal, on the margins of the 15th Summit of La Francophonie. He was joined by Christian Paradis, Minister of International Cooperation and Minister for La Francophonie, Philippe Beaulne, Canadian Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal, Joel Spicer, President of the MI, and members of the Canadian Maternal Newborn Child Health Network.
Canada’s contribution will help deliver and administer an estimated 400 million vitamin A and zinc supplements per year to children under the age of five. It will also increase the production of iodized salt to reach at least 120 million people each year. This support will also allow the MI to administer iron and folic acid supplements to approximately 80 per cent of pregnant women in the communities targeted by the Initiative, primarily sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
During his visit to the local health facility, the Prime Minister spoke with front-line health workers as well as mothers and children seeking care. He delivered the eight-billionth vitamin A capsule to a local Senegalese child, witnessing first-hand how Canadian investments in nutrition are improving the lives of women and children.
The MI is Canada’s flagship global nutrition organization, working to improve the health and nutritional status of the most vulnerable populations through the delivery of essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, iron and folic acid, zinc and oral rehydration solution, and iodized salt in more than 70 countries.
Canada’s contribution to the MI is a core element of the Forward Strategy announced by the Prime Minister at the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit in Toronto earlier this year.
- The Government of Canada is the founding donor to the MI and the largest donor to vitamin A programs worldwide since 1998, significantly contributing to the dramatic reduction in child deaths over the last 15 years.
- Vitamin A is a key nutritional element for the immune system to protect the body from disease. Since 1997, the MI has provided more than 75 per cent of the vitamin A required for supplementation programs in developing countries.
- Undernutrition contributes to the deaths of an estimated 3.1 million children under the age of five each year – approximately 45 per cent of all child deaths – while millions more children are permanently disabled by its physical and mental effects.
- On May 28 to 30, 2014, the Prime Minister hosted the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit in Toronto. At the Summit, Canada committed additional funding to continue support to 2020.
“Laureen and I were touched to meet so many mothers and children struggling for basic nutritional supplements. In Canada, our newborns and children do not face death from malnutrition. In 2014, we have the means to prevent so many needless deaths.”
– Prime Minister Stephen Harper
“My tour of the Kip Carrière Health Post in Senegal gave me a first-hand look at how distributing a dose of vitamin A, which costs mere pennies, can actually save the life of a child. The world must scale-up its efforts to eliminate the preventable deaths caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Millions of lives hang in the balance.”
– Prime Minister Stephen Harper