The FHO of Afghanistan (FHO-A) is currently implementing a micro-nutrient supplement program targeted at urban poor children between the ages of three and fourteen in Kabul City. The program’s beneficiaries have included children from the Kufa Orphanage, Karte Seh Mobile Mini Circus for Children, and the Skateistan School.
Over the past three decades of conflict, Afghanistan’s health system has suffered almost complete degradation. As such, the health status of the population of Afghanistan is dire and children are one of the most vulnerable populations to deficiencies in the public health infrastructure.
Children in Afghanistan are suffering from a high level of Vitamin-A Deficiency (VAD) and parasitic infections. These problems cause an increase in the prevalence of avoidable morbidity and mortality cases in Afghanistan. If Afghanistan is to succeed as a stable society, action must be taken to address the most basic health issues which infringe on the mental and physical development of Afghanistan’s children. Through the generosity of our partner Vitamin Angels, the FHO-A’s micro-nutrient supplement program has been able to distribute high dose vitamin A and anti-parasitic treatment to 500 children across Kabul.
Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient for the immune system. Globally, at least 100 million children under five suffer from vitamin A deficiency (VAD), high levels of which can cause blindness and greatly increase the risk that a child may die from diseases such as measles, diarrhea and acute respiratory infections.
The high dose Vitamin- A supplement, costing only two cents per capsule, can improve a child’s chance of survival by up to 25 per cent. UNICEF estimates that as many as 300,000 child deaths are prevented each year due to vitamin A supplementation.
The micronutrient supplement program is also aimed at treating children for intestinal parasites or worms, a common disease which leaves a high percentage of Afghan children feeling generally unwell.
In the long term, worm infections cause a range of problems, including reduced growth rate, learning problems and illnesses such as dysentery and anemia.
Albendazole is an anti-parasitic treatment that eliminates the presence of intestinal worms which also contribute to the poor absorption of vitamin A.