News

  • | December 2017 |
    A Regional Symposium on Sustainable Food Systems for Healthy Diets and Improved Nutrition was organised by FAO and WHO regional offices in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman on 11 and 12 December 2017. UNICEF held a 2-hour symposium on flour fortification progress and challenges in the Region, for which Smarter Futures partners FFI and IF had been invited as resources. Participating countries reviewed their current status and updated the information as applicable. They also stated what important steps they will take in the coming months to move their national flour fortification programmes forward. Oman was the first country in the world to fortify flour with folic acid (and iron) and has shown a steady decline in numbers of children born with Spina Bifida. However, it is impossible to prevent all cases with folic acid, and care is needed for those who are born with this birth defect. On December 13, Lieven Bauwens, IF Secretary General, and Anna Verster, IF Senior Advisor Flour Fortification and Smarter Futures Project Coordinator, visited the Al Khoula hospital to meet with the team that takes care of children born with Spina bifida.

  • | November 2017 |
    Smarter Futures partners the Food Fortification Initiative (FFI) and Helen Keller International (HKI), jointly with the World Food Programme (WFP), GAIN, Nutrition International and Sight and Life were part of the organising committee of a meeting on Rice Fortification – An Opportunity to Improve Nutrition in West Africa, held in Dakar, Senegal on 27 and 28 November. Smarter Futures partner IF was invited to participate. The meeting addressed rice fortification technologies and supply chain, evidence and standards, delivery models and the role of rice fortification in a balanced food basket. Next steps will see further elaboration of rice fortification opportunities at country level in West Africa.

  • | October 2017 |
    As there is a widespread vitamin and mineral deficiency problem in Tanzania, Smarter Futures partner Helen Keller International (HKI) and the Tanzanian Food Fortification Alliance supported a study on the effects of a large–scale wheat flour folic acid fortification program among women of reproductive age in urban Tanzania. Folate insufficiency at the moment of conception increases the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) occurring during the first 4 weeks of foetal development. Currently, the birth prevalence of NTDs in Tanzania is estimated to be as high as 3 NTDs per 1000 live births. HKI worked in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare through Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA), the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre (TFNC), the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), and food producers to implement the national food fortification program. The evaluation on the effectiveness of the program demonstrated that 6 months after the introduction of the program, a significant reduction in the prevalence of folate deficiency occurred, with the benefit persisting up to 1 year after the program roll-out. The study was further made possible with contributors of the Africa Academy for Public Health, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and Management Development for Health. Results of the study are open access and published here.
  • | September 2017 |
    Malnutrition is one of the biggest problems the world is facing nowadays and fortifying food with essential nutrients is a cost-efficient way to address this issue. To improve food fortification data availability for the global health and development sectors, the Food Fortification Initiative (FFI), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Iodine Global Network (IGN) and Micronutrient Forum have launched the Global Fortification Data Exchange (GFDx) tool. Read more
  • | August 2017 |
    A National Summit on Food Fortification took place from August 23-24, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The summit brought together government and industry leaders, millers, international aid organizations and other stakeholders involved in fortification efforts in the country. The event has been organised by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders and Children, and Helen Keller International Tanzania, in collaboration with many interested parties, including the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Iodine Global Network. Read more
  • | July 2017 |
    Despite the widespread introduction of large-scale food fortification programs, few data are available on their effectiveness for improving micronutrient status among population groups at risk of deficiency, such as women of reproductive age and young children. Researchers from various institutions conducted a survey in Yaoundé and Douala, the 2 major metropolitan areas of Cameroon, to evaluate the impact of the fortification program 1 year after the introduction of a mandatory food fortification program in this country. Their study results show that iron, zinc, folate, and vitamin B-12 status increased among women of reproductive age and children between 1-5 yrs that took part in the survey. Mean plasma total folate concentrations were ~250% greater post fortification among women (47 compared with 15 nmol/L) and children (56 compared with 20 nmol/L), and the prevalence of low plasma folate values was <1% after fortification in both population subgroups. Read more
  • | June 2017 |
    The urban poor tend to purchase food from informal markets such as street vendors. Adding vitamins and minerals to flour in industrial mills has the potential to reach the poorest of the poor urban residents. Read more on FFI website

  • | March 2017 |
    Europe has a lot to learn from Africa, especially in the field of fortification. Until now, 27 countries in Africa have mandatory legislation to fortify cereals with iron and folic acid and 5 do so voluntarily. In Europe, no country to date has started fortification with folic acid although scientists have pushed the agenda for years now.
  • | March 2017 |
    CDC in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research launched an online portal for the previously developed Birth Defects Surveillance Toolkit. It offers technical assistance to help countries initiate or enhance birth defects surveillance systems, which can provide accurate data to inform prevention activities. The toolkit includes a birth defects surveillance manual, photo atlas, and facilitator’s guide to be used in birth defects surveillance workshops.
  • | January 2017 |
    From 3 – 7 October 2016, Smarter Futures organised a Maize Fortification Strategy Meeting for Africa. Though maize is the primary cereal consumed in many countries in Africa, less than 30% of the industrially milled maize on the continent is fortified. Representatives of government and the grain milling sector from Benin, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and their developmental partners gathered in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. During the meeting they deliberated on the need to strategize on scaling up of maize flour fortification programs in their countries as a vehicle to reducing micronutrient malnutrition, which resulted in an Africa Maize Fortification Strategy.
  • | December 2016 |
    We are happy to announce that WHO has published new guidelines for maize fortification, which will be very helpful to countries in Africa that are already fortifying maize flour or planning to do so.
  • | December 2016 |
    Participants from 14 countries in Eastern, Western and Southern Africa, as well as partners from public, private and civic sectors attended the African Network Event, organised by Smarter Futures to celebrate Africa’s efforts in flour fortification. During the event they filled out a survey to share their experiences with the partnership, their familiarity with the tools developed, and their views on a future for Smarter Futures. Read more for a report of the day, with survey results, and to see the photos.
  • | July 2016 |
    Smarter Futures is organising a Maize Fortification Strategy Meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 3-7 October 2016. Read more
  • | June 2016 |
    Leaders in Mozambique‬ are being trained to use FORTIMAS for fortification monitoring and surveillance.
    Elda & Abe_Min Health (1)Interpretation equipmentMauricete Abe Eduarda_May 2016
  • | May 2016|
    Smarter Futures organises a training workshop on Quality Assurance and Quality Control in Kampala, Uganda that will take place on 22-28 May. Read more.
  • | May 2016|
    25-years anniversary of a publication of the landmark study on folic acid fortification by The Lancet. Read more.
  • | April 2016 |
    Updates from the advocacy visits in Zambia and South Africa. Lumbwe Chiwele, IF Board member and the president of the Zambian Association for Hydrocephalus and Spina Bifida, together with IF Secretary General, Lieven Bauwens visited the pediatric neurosurgery ward at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka. On his advocacy mission to Zambia, Lieven had various meetings at the Beit Cure Hospital in Lusaka, and he spoke with people at the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture on how to improve the quality of care and prevention of SBH. Investing in a surveillance programme is the most important next step in order to be able to document what happens in the country. It would guide the following steps on prevention as well as plan for care provision.On 13 April Lieven Bauwens participated in the first conferenceof the South-African Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association, Asbah-Sa. In his speech he raised the importance of flour fortification with folic acid and prevention of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus.
  • | February 2016|
    Take a look at the Smarter Futures Work Plan 2016 and discover more about Smarter Futures activities in African countries for 2016.
  • | January 2016|
    Paper that summarizes the development and implementation of an online pre-course training and in-person surveillance workshop conducted between 2014 December and 2015 March for representatives from six African countries. Read more.
  • | December 2015|
    Lunch Seminar Smarter Futures at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Read more.
  • | November 2015|
    Smarter Futures, a partnership for Africa of the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, participated in the IF African Workshop in Zambia from 5 to 7 November 2015. Read more.
  • | September 2015|
    The 7th International Conference on Birth Defects and Disabilities in the Developing World (ICBD) that took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Read more.
  • | September 2015|
    Global Summit on Food Fortification in Tanzania to raise awareness of and strengthen investment in food fortification. Read more
  • | August 2015 |
    Report from the Training Workshop on Quality Assurance and Quality Control for Flour Fortification in Zimbabwe. Read more
  • | May 2015 |
    Have a look at the photo-reportage from our QA/QC workshop in Zimbabwe.
  • | April 2015 |
    Smarter Futures organised a training workshop on Quality Assurance and Quality Control for Flour Fortification in Zimbabwe that took place on 11-14 May. Read more
  • | March 2015 |
    WHO Department of Nutrition for Health and Development in collaboration with the International Clearinghouse of Birth Defects Surveillance and Research, the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, and the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are convening an intermediate level training workshop on surveillance and prevention of congenital anomalies and preterm births in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania from 2 to 5 March 2015. Read more
  • | December 2014 |
    Report from the Smarter Futures meeting in Cape Town “Celebrating and Equipping Progress Through Partnerships”. Read more
    Read about our event in the Milling and Grain Magazine
Smarter Futures 2014 Cape Town
About 125 people celebrated a decade of progress during an Africa Network Meeting held in Cape Town, South Africa, 2-3 December 2014.
  • October 2014 |
    ICORD meeting on the societal value of Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatments of Rare Diseases put emphasis on the importance of the folic acid fortification.Read more
  • August 2014 |
    Smarter Futures project was awarded a top score in the Dutch evaluation of 39 Schokland and Millennium grants. Read more
  • June 2014 |
    Smarter Futures partner, HKI, presented a poster entitled “Implementing large scale food fortification in Tanzania: Lessons learned” at the Micronutrient Forumin Addis Ababa.
  • May 2014 |
    One of our long-standing partners, the Flour Fortification Initiative (FFI), is changing its name to the Food Fortification Initiative as it expands its work to include rice. Read more
  • April 2014 |
    We are proudly introducing our brand new publication: a guide for Fortification Monitoring and Surveillance called FORTIMAS. You can access it from the top menu or by clicking here.
  • March 2014 |
    WHO, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), International Clearinghouse for Birth Defects Surveillance and Research (ICBDSR) published recently A manual for programme managers: on birth defects surveillance.
  • January 2014 |
    You can now access the full report from the Cost and Economic Benefit Training Workshop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
  • | November 2013 |
    Use our Advocacy Toolkit to promote folic acid fortification in your country!
  • | October 2013 |
    The Smarter Futures Steering Group met in The Hague to review the proposed work plan for 2014. During the meeting they were joined by Paulus Verschuren, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Netherlands) who was briefed on the Steering Groups deliberations.
Smarter Futures Steering Group
From left to right: Fred Grant, Regional Nutrition Program Advisor, Helen Keller International; Kees Oudijk, Business Development Manager Ferrazone, Akzo Nobel; Scott Montgomery, FFI Director (Chair); Paulus Verschuren, Special Envoy Food and Nutrition Security for Development, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Lieven Bauwens, Secretary General IF; Anna Verster, Senior Advisor FFI/Smarter Futures (secretary); Ronald Afidra, FFI Africa Network Coordinator.

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Smarter Futures is a public-private-civic partnership that supports similar partnerships of flour millers, governments, vitamin and mineral suppliers, international organizations, and academic institutions to make fortification of wheat flour a reality in Africa. The aim of Smarter Futures is to improve health in Africa through the enrichment of wheat and maize flour with essential vitamins and minerals.