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15 July 2004

USAID provides technical assistance on food fortification to Ministry of Health and Palestine Standards Institution

Through a $500,000 cooperative agreement with the International Science and Technology Institute implemented July 1, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide technical assistance to both the Palestinian Ministry of Health and the Palestine Standards Institution to develop regulations and standards, quality control and quality assurance procedures, and inspection and compliance monitoring for fortifying food products such as locally milled wheat flour with essential micronutrients.

The 13-month agreement, called Micronutrient Operational Strategies and Technologies (MOST), also calls for supporting efforts by private Palestinian food industries to voluntarily fortify high-intake items such as milk, tahina and cooking oil.

During the last four years, Palestinians' nutritional status has declined to the point where it is at risk for malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. The current situation demands the introduction of local actions aimed at establishing permanent measures that are less dependent on international contributions.

MOST aims to strengthen food fortifcation initiatives as well as introduce educational and social marketing programs to increase public awareness of the importance of fortified wheat flour. Essential commodities such as mixers and fortificants will also be provided to select wheat mills within the West Bank and Gaza.

The project builds on USAID's nutrition and food strategy, which to date has focused on policy reform, food assistance, vitamin and mineral supplementation, training of health workers on the vital role of nutrition in fetal and child development and routine child growth monitoring, counseling and nutrition education for families, behavior change and communication programs, and nutrition-focused research.

USAID administers the U.S. foreign assistance program, which gives economic and humanitarian aid to more than 100 countries worldwide. Since 1993, USAID has provided more than $1.3 billion in assistance to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

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