07 mei 2005
Akzo Nobel developed new iron supplement for healthfood
Lack of iron is particularly a problem in developing countries, where according to UNICEF half the infants and 500 million women of reproductive age are affected. Iron deficiency causes exhausting fatigue, impaired cognitive development in children and maternal mortality. Food fortifiers containing iron are widely available, but also too expensive for poor countries. Akzo Nobel, the Netherlands-based international producer of pharmaceuticals, chemicals and coatings, has been working with scientific institutes and governments to make a micronutrient that only costs 10 Eurocents per person per year.
What makes it so cheap is mainly that it is an 'orphan drug', a drug without patent protection. Still, "the returns are sufficient that we have a business interest in pursuing it," as Geoff Smith, director of Akzo's chemicals division in Singapore and leader of the global project on iron deficiency stated in the Financial Times (4 May 2005).
The product, called Ferrazone, has been tested in Kenya involving over 500 children between the age of three and eight, which are fed porridge made of fortified maize. The pilot has been executed in cooperation with the Dutch Wageningen University, a local food company and the Kenyan Ministry of Health.
Vietnam is starting a national programme to add the iron supplement to fish sauce, which is a daily used ingredient. The country received a grant from the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, a partnership between the Gates Foundation, the World Health Organisation and multinational companies. Akzo Nobel donated Ferrazone for two trials. The first trial already showed that the fortifier improved the condition of female factory workers.
There is a large market to be explored for Ferrazone. China is already fortifying soy sauce with the iron supplement, and India is involved in pilot projects. These two countries alone have a population of over two billion people.
P+ Webtip: Website Ferrazone