Some 30 state agents and food quality controllers underwent the training. Unbalanced diet is a growing public health concern in Cameroon. The eating habit of thousands of men, women and children in Cameroon does not always contain vital elements in sufficient quantities. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals resulting from that are sometimes irreversible on the children and women of reproductive age. For infants, there is a drop in intelligence quotient (IQ), stunted growth, an increasing morbidity and mortality. For women, deficiencies in vitamins and minerals affect their health and may put at risk the development of their pregnancy.
Going by 2009 FRAT study, the level of prevalence deficiency for women between 15 and 49 years old for vitamin A is 22%, iron 32%, zinc 69.1%, folate 16.6% and in children between 1 and 5 years old for vitamin A is 35%, iron 68%, zinc 76.9% and folate 8.4%.
The government has implemented several nutritional intervention strategies to prevent and fight malnutrition among population. These include the promotion of a complete diet, increase dietary diversity, vitamins and minerals supplementations and food fortification. It is in this vein that the Ministry of Trade organized a two-day training session for some 30 commercial controllers from February 20 to 21.
With the collaboration of the Helen Keller International, the Ministry through the training of the commercial agents aims to reduce by one-third the prevalence of anemia due to iron deficiency in children less than 5 years and women of childbearing age in the next 5 years, encourage local industries to produce enriched foods, eliminate vitamin A deficiency among children less than 5 years. The fortification is presented as one of the best strategies against malnutrition with a profitable cost/benefit ratio. The addition of vitamin A in refined vegetable oil increases only 0.2% of its price while it accounts for nearly 33% of the daily vitamin A required by the organism.
The Douala workshop, according to Alex Marco Ndjebayi, trainer from the Helen Keller International, aimed at reinforcing the technical capacity of state agents in charge of commercial controls. Participants will visit markets, shops, supermarkets with one goal that of verifying if the refined cooking oils and wheat flour are fortified. One of the trainees, Azweh Linda Teghen Mrs. Chofon, Inspector of Price, Weight and Measures, revealed that she learned how to minister the inspection form. “We concentrated on flour, vegetable oils, salt and sugar. We particularly checked receipts, if the products conformed to national norms, checked if workers are medically fit.”