February 18th marked another significant step in Malawi’s efforts to develop a comprehensive national food fortification program: the formal adoption of revised standards for sugar, edible oils, and wheat and maize flours that include mandatory fortification.
Developed with technical support from PHC, the revised standards take into account recent consumption patterns, while balancing fortification levels across multiple foods to benefit the broadest number possible. With the exception of vitamin A in sugar (Malawi is a net exporter, thus sugar provides a vehicle for addressing the high rates of vitamin A deficiency) levels are harmonized with recent East, Central, and Southern Africa (ECSA) health region recommendations. Approval by the Malawi Standards Board lays the groundwork for industry-wide fortification and positions Malawi as a regional leader.
In a further signal of the Government of Malawi’s commitment to fortification, PHC is working with our partners in the Office of President and Cabinet to include a broad mandate for fortification in the Nutrition Act currently being prepared. As industry-specific grace periods are negotiated before mandatory fortification begins, PHC will continue to advocate for rapid roll-out of the new standards. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with our partners in the Office of President and Cabinet, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Malawi Bureau of Standards, other government bodies, and UN agencies, as well as our donors to make that happen.