government of The Gambia through the National Nutrient Agency (NaNa) in
collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, UNICEF and the
Gambia Bureau of Statistics recently briefed the media on the country’s 2018
Jointly funded by the government of The Gambia, UNICEF, FAO, UNFPA, WFP, MRC and the World Bank, the nationwide survey commenced on March 12th and will run through April 25th.
According to officials, the survey team will conduct house to house interviews and collect samples at designated points in the community and select participants within the households who will be required to provide their urine and blood samples to determine high blood level, anemia and vitamin A status. Salt will also be tested for iodine during the exercise.
Speaking at the briefing at NaNA conference Room in Kanifing, Pa Momodou Phall, executive director of NaNa said the purpose of the survey is to obtain information on the current nutritional status of females between 15-49 years and children between 6-59 months, adding that the survey information will be used to develop evidence-based policies and programmes to improve health and nutritional status of the targets groups.
“The primary objectives are to measure the prevalence of anemia in children between ages 6-59 months, non-pregnant women of child-bearing age and pregnant women, iron deficiency in children of 6-59 months of age and non-pregnant women of child bearing age, vitamin A status of children between 6-59 months of age and non-pregnant women of child bearing age.”
Mr. Phall added that the survey also targets malaria in children between 6-59 months of age and non-pregnant women of child bearing age, acute malnutrition (wasting), chronic malnutrition (stunting) and overweight and obesity in children between 6-59 months, chronic energy deficiency, overweight and obesity in non-pregnant women among others. “The selected participants will be provided with free screening for malaria, anemia, diabetes and high blood pressure and participants who are found to have malaria, high blood pressure and high blood sugar will be referred to the nearest health facility for care.”
According to him, the national micronutrient survey on iron deficiency anemia, Vitamin A deficiency and iodine deficiency disorders was conducted in 1999, saying data on micronutrient status are currently limited and outdated.
He said although the prevalence of anemia, under and over nutrients have recently been collected as part of the demographic and health survey 2013 and multiple indicator clusters 2010, but added that these surveys did not include assessment of micronutrients status.
“Globally, nutrient deficiencies are believed to be among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity so a current and thorough investigation of the nutritional status of vulnerable groups is warranted.”