On February 13-14, 2023, USAID Advancing Nutrition Uganda organized a technical workshop, where the Ministry of Health of the Government of Uganda convened stakeholders from government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), private sector entities including the fortifying food industries, civil society, academia and research institutions, development partners, and donors to assist in a review of its national food fortification program. During the workshop, key actors reviewed the country’s food fortification program over the past two decades, touching on the history of food fortification in Uganda, evaluating the current landscape of the four fortified food vehicles (salt, wheat flour, maize flour, and edible oils and fats), and seeking opportunities to strengthen the program in Uganda.
In his opening speech, Dr. Daniel Kyabayinze, the Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health on behalf of the Director of General Health Services, recognized Uganda’s efforts to strengthen the food fortification program through the multi-sectoral National Working Group on Food Fortification (NWGFF). The government committed its support to the program while strengthening efforts to institutionalize the program through its different MDAs. “To strengthen and galvanize efforts in the reduction of micronutrient deficiencies among the population and especially in children and women in Uganda, it is imperative to review the implementation of the food fortification program as one of the cost-effective high impact nutrition interventions," Dr. Kyabayinze explained.
A review of the program performance looked at consumption pattern data of the fortified food vehicles from different national sources (such as the 2008 Uganda Food Consumption Survey, Uganda Demographic and Health Survey [UDHS], Uganda National Panel Survey [UNPS], and FACT Survey). The data displayed an increasing coverage for fortified foods, which correlates with improved micronutrient status. However, some stakeholders expressed concern about potential negative influences from industry-processed foods such as increasing non-communicable diseases.
The workshop also stressed the need to use evidence-based data to measure and evaluate the dietary contribution to reducing micronutrient deficiencies to inform investments in large-scale food fortification and complementary interventions.
To wrap up, USAID Advancing Nutrition and the private sector presented the current landscape of fortifying industries and highlighted the continuous support from MDAs, the NWGFF, and other partners. Private sector representatives such as food processors and the Private Sector Foundation Uganda emphasized the need to strengthen the enabling environment for the food industries using the effective whole-of-business approach. The workshop concluded with participants formulating key strategic actions to further strengthen the food fortification program. USAID Advancing Nutrition is preparing the workshop report for dissemination, which will help the MDAs from different sectors develop sector-specific roadmaps highlighting short to midterm priorities.