Heinz India, the Indian affiliate of HJ Heinz Co USA, in partnership with the Maharashtra Government, Helen Keller International and King Edward Memorial Hospital Research Centre, Pune, has launched a global Heinz Micronutrient Campaign to addresses the need of millions of children suffering from malnutrition.
HJ Heinz has committed $7 million to the Heinz Micronutrient Campaign, which has already benefited more than one million children in Mongolia, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia and other countries. HJ Heinz has established the goal of helping 10 million children globally by 2010.
The Heinz Micronutrient Campaign supports the distribution of millions of single-serve packets containing micro-encapsulated nutrient (vitamins and minerals) powder Sprinkles Plus that can be easily mixed with any semi-solid and solid foods, including staples such as rice, maize, pulses or pureed fruits and vegetables.
Sprinkles Plus is a vitamins and minerals supplement for children aged 6 months to 6 years, which is easily sprinkled onto their regular foods. Sprinkles Plus can be used daily by mothers to fortify foods prepared at home.
Along with the provision of daily prepared food, regular use of Sprinkles Plus can help promote optimal growth and development, improve a child's immunity, increase a child's appetite for food and prevent anaemia and other illnesses related to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The nutrient composition of Sprinkles Plus has been approved by UNICEF.
The campaign's first phase will begin in Maharashtra, starting with children in small towns and villages like Pune slums, Junnar, Vadu, Karjat and Indapur. According to the National Family Health Survey (2005-06), around 79 per cent of children under the age of three are anaemic.
The campaign aims at benefiting over six million children in India and the Ministry of Women and Child Development has said that it would like to take this programme on a national level.
Says V Mohan, director- HR and corporate affairs, Heinz India: "Compliance with traditional methods of delivering these nutrients, such as liquid drops, is low because they taste unpleasant and may have side effects. The Heinz Micronutrient Campaign addresses this problem through its use of a unique microencapsulated nutrient powder that does not affect the taste of the food."
Helen Keller International, HJ Heinz's implementation partner in a successful micronutrient programme in Indonesia, will conduct a social marketing campaign to educate and train anganwadi workers in these areas, who will distribute the sachets in co-operation with the Integrated Child Development Services Programme.
"We have seen first hand how effective the Heinz Micronutrient Program has been in Indonesia and we are taking the lessons learned and applying them to the India project," said Elviyanti Martini, Health & Nutrition Programme Director, HKI.