September 22nd marked a significant milestone for Rwanda’s efforts to implement a comprehensive national food fortification program: the formal adoption of Rwanda-specific fortification standards by the Bureau of Standards for maize and wheat flour, edible oils, sugar, and salt. Country-specific fortification levels were drafted by Rwanda’s National Fortification Alliance with technical support from PHC in November 2010. Levels take into account consumption patterns and deficiency rates while balancing fortification levels across multiple food groups to benefit the broadest number of people possible.
A two-day stakeholders workshop from September 22-23 brought together government officials, laboratory technicians, academia, importers, and local producers to review the drafted fortification levels and discuss next steps around implementation. The workshop marked the adoption of Rwanda’s drafted food fortification levels as official fortification standards – a first-time-in-history for Rwanda. Additionally, the workshop marked the first time government ministries officially interfaced with private industry around beginning the implementation phase of fortification indicating to industry they will be held to the adopted standards pending the President’s signature of the fortification decree and the identified grace period.
Although levels were drafted in alignment with East, Central, and Southern Africa (ECSA) health recommendations, the Government of Rwanda will officially present Rwanda’s fortification standards at an ECSA Summit next month to ensure harmonization.
PHC looks forward to working closely with government partners and industry to ensure the appropriate adoption of fortification procedures and to provide technical assistance around equipment and premix sourcing in the coming months.