Atoms for Health – IAEA continues to support NFTRC research

  • Atoms for Health – IAEA continues to support NFTRC research

    Atoms for Health – IAEA continues to support NFTRC research

    Atoms for Health – IAEA continues to support NFTRC research

    National Food Technology Research Centre (NFTRC) is currently running a project on ‘Developing National Capacity for the Evaluation of an Iron Supplementation Programme using Stable Isotope Techniques’.

    The project, which started in January 2016 and is expected to end by December 2017, is supported by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – Human Health Programme, whose role is to give technical expertise in the design, implementation and analysis of data for the use of stable isotope techniques. 

    To this end, NFTRC recently hosted IAEA’s Nutrition Scientist Dr Victor Ochieng Owino to review and finalise the project plan.

    The visit ended with a workshop aimed at mobilising possible external stakeholders, where Dr Owino consulted with investigators experienced in planning, conducting and reporting efficacy studies of iron nutritional interventions in young children.

                           Workshop attendants.

    The workshop was attended by experts from NFTRC, IAEA, Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security in Botswana (MoA), Ministry of Health (MoH), National Health Laboratory, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MoLGRD), University of Botswana (UB), and United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

    In an interview with NFTRC’s Weekly Bulletin, Dr Owino  said the current project seeks to have better data on the prevalence of iron deficiency in infants and young children and to provide updated information on how Tsabana, a weaning food provided by the government of Botswana over the past two decades, is influencing iron status in children.

    He said the data would help with a benchmark to design future interventions to address iron deficiency with more effective food products, with the ultimate goal of having a healthy and productive Botswana population.

      IAEA, Nutrition Scientist Dr. Victor Ochieng Owino listening attentively during the impassioned workshop discussion.

    Dr Owino recommended that an updated understanding of the composition, usage and coverage of Tsabana within the target group is necessary and focus group discussions with households will be very useful.

    He summed up that the project team must sustain the multi-stakeholder collaboration that is already in place as it will help with better uptake of the project results.

    NFTRC’s Nutrition and Dietetics Principal Research Scientist, Dr Boitumelo Stokie Motswagole said initially the study objective was to reduce iron deficiency anaemia in pregnant women in Botswana, leading to reduced maternal and infant mortality, and it was later changed to also address children directly because of the issues with Tsabana food supplement, as the rate of stunting is still high.

    UNICEF, Health & Nutrition Specialist Kenanao Motlhoiwa giving a presentation on ProPAN Child Feeding Practices.

    Dr Motswagole said although the rates of malnutrition are generally on a downward trend in Botswana, hidden hunger and the deficiency of key minerals and vitamins still remains a major public health challenge, affecting the most vulnerable groups, women of reproductive age and young children.

    She said as a result research will be carried out in children under the age of five years, to determine the effectiveness of the current Tsabana compared to a formulated supplement using ferric sodium ethylene-diamine-tetra-acetate (NaFeEDTA) as a potentially more bioavailable source of iron in malaria-affected areas.

    Shakawe and Moshupa have thus been chosen as areas of study.

    Dr Motswagole stated that she would travel to United States of America, while three other Nutrition and Dietetics officers would go to Morocco to attend training courses in relation to this project in March 2017.

    IAEA Human Health Programme is aimed at enhancing the capabilities of IAEA Member States in addressing issues related to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of health problems through the development and application of nuclear techniques, within a framework of quality assurance.

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