A big occasion: 76th World Health Assembly adopts resolution for food fortification to prevent neural tube defects
This is an important landmark - and the only the beginning to more advocacy work around the world.
Folate fortification is only in 23% of countries globally in the year 2023.
With appropriate levels of folate fortification in the prenatal period, it is estimated that >300,000 births with neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly can be prevented every year around the world.
Neurosurgeons joined together with global surgeons, public health experts, advocates, geneticists, food scientists, and so many more stakeholders such as my colleagues in the GAPSBIF alliance to advocate for successful support of this resolution at WHA76.
Repost of a terrific message from stakeholder partner, the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus:
It is with great pleasure that we announce that The seventy-sixth World Health Assembly has voted to adopt the resolution “Accelerating efforts for preventing micronutrient deficiencies and their consequences, including spina bifida and other neural tube defects, through safe and effective food fortification”. This is a tremendous achievement for the global SBH community.
This WHO resolution is unique as it combines policies to approach a serious public health crisis with a holistic approach. Combining perspectives from the fields of disability rights, health care and nutrition. Tapping on a global momentum to make a real impact on public health.
Read the IF Press Release here.
IF, together with partners, and most importantly with IF Members worked together to make this important resolution a reality. In this moment of celebration IF would like to thank you for your extraordinary effort, passion and dedication to the advocacy for this resolution. IF members have been instrumental in reaching national policy makers in effort to get their national governments to support the initiative.
The campaign for the WHA Resolution has raised awareness of the importance of cross-sectoral collaborations for public health policies advocacy. To recognise the vital role that each stakeholder has in furthering not only knowledge and awareness but most importantly, achieving policy action. A core principle of disability rights is ‘nothing about us, without us’ and this principle is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). During the course of the advocacy for a WHA resolution on large scale food fortification of staple foods with folic acid, the involvement of persons with lived experiences through their representative organisations proved to be an advantage and not just an obligation.
The adoption of the WHA Resolution is a moment for celebration. But it is also just the beginning. Moving forward, continued advocacy will be essential in order to ensure effective implementation of the resolution. It is vital that IF and you as Member Associations continue to be involved in the decision making processes regarding policies to reduce the prevalence of spina bifida and other neural tube defects to ensure that these policies are implemented in ways that effectively reach all sections of society and without stigmatising the global SBH community.
For increased awareness of the resolution and to begin the campaign for its implementation, IF will continue its advocacy during and after the WHA.
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