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2008.01.09

* Uzbekistan fortifies staple foods to protect children against anemia
* 02 min 37 secs
* 02 Jul 2007

At a hospital in the Uzbek capital, Dilafruz Ashurmatova watches over her five-month old daughter, who suffers from anemia.

Dilafruz had thought her baby was perfectly healthy. But when her daughter reached three months, she stopped growing, became sick and grew frighteningly weak.

SOUNDBITE (Uzbek): Dilafruz Ashurmatova, Mother: “We were shocked when the doctors told us she had anemia. We always thought we were giving her enough food.”

The doctors then gave Ashurmatova another surprise: they told her she had developed anemia during her pregnancy, leading to her daughter being born with a severe form of the illness.

Now, after two months of treatment, Ashurmatova’s baby has improved dramatically. She moves about much more, and has once again started making healthy noises.

Iron-deficiency anemia is an alarmingly common condition in Uzbekistan. According to a nationwide survey in 2006, it affects some 75-percent of women aged 15 to 50, and more than one third of children under five years old. Anemic children are more likely to die of common childhood illnesses or suffer from slow growth and development.

With support from UNICEF, Uzbekistan is working to prevent iron deficiency anemia and other health problems. Mills are encouraged to fortify flour with iron and micronutrients, and salt is iodized before it is distributed to shops.

In schools and workshops across the country, the government and UNICEF also try to build awareness about the importance of micronutrients and how people, especially mothers and children, can reduce the risk of anemia and iodine deficiency disorder.

SOUNDBITE (Russian): Elena Nagaeva, Head of Children’s Department, Tashkent Institute of Haematology: “There’s much more awareness in the general population now. The mothers are more aware of anemia, its causes, and how to prevent it. The mass media has also played a greater role in building this awareness.”

...And that’s raising hope that more children in Uzbekistan can enjoy an active and playful childhood, far from a hospital ward.



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