After spending more than 10 years in Honduras working closely with the Ministry of Health to effect change in the nation’s fortification practices, PHC is pleased to announce that recently the Ley de Fortificación de Alimentos en Honduras (Honduras Food Fortification Law) was published in the nation’s gazette and officially entered into force. This critical law gives the Ministry of Health the ability to declare fortification of foods mandatory for the public good, the power to enforce that decision, and the flexibility to revise fortification levels without the need for an act of congress. As Honduras is the first country in which PHC began operations, this event has particular poignance, offering proof that our efforts to combat malnutrition in the world’s poorest nations have tremendous value.
Honduras began fortification of salt and sugar in the 1960s and 1970s, but the way in which it was achieved (by congressional acts that specified exact fortification levels and penalties for noncompliance) left no room for modification based on changes in diet and nutritional science. More than thirty years later the old standards were in need of revision. Data gathered by the joint PHC-Ministry of Health consumption survey highlighted this need and in fact suggests the fortification level of salt might be too high, leading to a risk of hyperthyroidism and other negative health effects. It was with this in mind that PHC worked with the congressional committee on women and children to draft the Honduras Food Fortification Bill. Following tireless lobbying on the part of PHC’s partners in Honduras the National Congress formally approved the bill in November of 2010 and now, finally, it has become law.
Honduras is currently working with a regional harmonization initiative to craft new standards that take into account both current consumption patterns and the need to streamline growing intra-regional trade. PHC remains in touch to provide technical assistance if requested, but is proud to report that the need is limited: with the Ministry of Health empowered by the new law, Honduras is moving forward on its own to launch revised fortification standards.