Vitamin A is essential to immune function especially in children under five who are most vulnerable to common infections and diseases. Together with health advocates worlwideVAS, distribution of vitamin A has helped reduce the estimated number of deaths in children under five from 16 million in 1970 to less than 8 million annually in 2010.
With an estimated 190 million children under five suffering from vitamin A deficiency (VAD) worldwide, the rate of infants and children contracting such common diseases as measles, malaria, diarrhoea and acute respiratory tract infections is dangerously high. Battling these illnesses with weakened immune systems, a consequence of VAD, and results in too many young lives cut short.
A proven solution to VAD is at our fingertips. Vitamin A supplementation is simple, cost-effective, and together with zinc supplementation was ranked by a group of world-renowned economists as the top international priority for addressing the world’s greatest global development challenges. Unlike other treatments, one high-dose vitamin A capsule can provide one child with sufficient vitamin A for six months. This alone can reduce under-five child mortality by about 24% in populations at risk of vitamin A deficiency. It can also help prevent and reverse one of the most severe effects of VAD, xerophthalmia, a disorder of the eye that can lead to permanent blindness.