Action - The MOST Project - Sugar fortification - All population groups

Programme: The MOST Project

Programme description


Micronutrient deficiency adversely affects the health and economic and social development of individuals, communities, and nations. Given their high prevalence in developing regions, deficiencies in vitamin A, iron, and iodine have great public health significance.

Vitamin A deficiency weakens the immune system and, hence, increases the severity of infections. It is also the most common cause of blindness among children in developing countries. Iron deficiency anemia impairs immunity and reduces physical and mental capacities of populations. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of mental and physical retardation in infants and children worldwide. As with vitamin A and iron, iodine deficiency increases the risk of death in newborns.

Programs that promote improved micronutrient status can alleviate the disability, morbidity, and mortality—particularly among young children and women—that are the consequences of micronutrient deficiency.

The MOST Mission

The MOST mission is to 1) maintain and enhance USAID's global leadership position in addressing micronutrient malnutrition, particularly vitamin A deficiency; 2) implement and evaluate state-of-the-art interventions to alleviate micronutrient deficiencies; and 3) provide technical guidance and coordination to other USAID projects with micronutrient-related components.

The MOST Strategy

The MOST strategy is built upon a framework of global and country-level results:  

The global agenda focuses on 1) promoting a revised global agenda in collaboration with other organizations worldwide committed to reducing micronutrient malnutrition; 2) translating scientific knowledge into policy and program action; and 3) maximizing lessons learned through USAID’s extensive field program experience. 

Country-level results address deficiencies in vitamin A, iron, and iodine: 1) vitamin A coverage of at least 80 percent of deficient children under 6 years of age; 2) moderate to severe anemia decreased by 30 percent in pregnant women and children 6–24 months of age; and 3) percentage of the population with symptoms of iodine deficiency reduced by 30 percent.

Country Activities

For micronutrient delivery at the country level, MOST’s role is to provide technical support to countries to guide the use of not only USAID funds, but also the full range of financial and human resources needed to eliminate micronutrient deficiencies from the list of public health problems.

In the design of country activities, MOST seeks the appropriate balance between supplementation, food fortification, and other food-based approaches to deliver micronutrients to at-risk populations in an effective, yet affordable way. Country activities are based upon analyses of a variety of relevant information:
—Prevalence and severity of micronutrient deficiencies
—Awareness of effects of micronutrient deficiencies
—Nutrition policies and programs
—Providers’ motivation, knowledge, and practices
—Food consumption data
—Production, distribution, and marketing of staple foods
—Estimates of the costs of alternative interventions

Key Areas of Activity

—Application of behavior change techniques to create demand for micronutrient programs and services
—Enhancement of the effectiveness and sustainability of supplementation programs
—Sound planning, implementation, and quality control of fortification programs
—Inclusion of other food-based approaches in programs
—Application of appropriate economic analysis to guide the evolution of country programs
—Use of monitoring and evaluation to improve program operations
—Development of public and private sector alliances to enhance the effectiveness of interventions

Target Groups

MOST focuses on the improvement of the micronutrient status of children under 6 years of age and women of childbearing age. Several intervention options available to address micronutrient deficiency, such as food fortification, will benefit not only those target groups, but also school-age children and adult males.

The MOST Team

The MOST team consists of five organizations led by the International Science and Technology Institute, Inc. (ISTI) as the primary contractor. ISTI's partners are the Academy for Educational Development, Helen Keller International, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and Johns Hopkins University.

In addition, five resource institutions have joined MOST for in-country implementation and technical tasks: CARE, International Executive Service Corps, Population Services International, Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, and Save the Children.

Programme type



Annual average cost of vitamin A supplementation in Ghana, Zambia:USD 2,851,000Zambia Sugar requested $1 million from USAID to cover the cost of the fortificant in Zambia Sugar Fortification Program.



Start date:


End date:

Target group: 
All population groups
Implementation details : 

Government agencies encouraged the initial development of fortification: NFNC promoted initial research, sponsored meetings, and coordinated activities related to fortification; MOH researched the legal framework; the National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) provided technical guidance; the Food and Drug Control Laboratory (FDCL) conducted monitoring and evaluation; and the Zambian Revenue Authority (ZRA) examined the tax structure. Industry acceptance allowed planning to begin, but donor support was critical to the development of the program: the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was the lead financer of the project and provided technical assistance, UNICEF provided spare parts, and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided spectrophotometers for Zambia Sugar and the FDCL.

While legislation was still being developed, Zambia Sugar went ahead with the launch of fortified Whitespoon Sugar on May 15, 1998. Zambia Sugar began its fortification program at 15 mg/kg, but cost considerations led the company to reduce the level to 10 mg/kg within three months. In May 1997, one year before fortification began, a consultant estimated the cost of fortifying 100,000 metric tons of sugar at 16 mg/kg to be around $1 million U.S., while fortifying at 20 mg/kg would cost almost $1.25 million.24 Reducing the level from 16 to 10 mg/kg could thus have reduced costs by approximately $375,000 a year.

Target population size : 
Coverage level (%): 
Outcome indicator(s): 

Modified Relative Dose Response Test (MRDR) in children

M&E system: 

The first outside tests of fortificant levels in sugar were controversial. Four months after the launch of fortified sugar, a team consisting of representatives from the MOH, the NFNC, and NISIR visited the Zambia Sugar mill. The team tested samples from the mill at the FDCL; these tests showed far lower levels of vitamin A than those shown in tests by Zambia Sugar. The government’s tests indicated a range of 0–13.6 mg/kg, while Zambia Sugar’s tests indicated a range of 9–21 mg/kg for the same samples. Zambia Sugar believes that the samples suffered sedimentation in the transport to the government laboratory and that this explains the different results.

MOST, the USAID micronutrient program, sponsored the creation of training manuals for health inspectors and Food and Drug enforcement officers, as well as a national training workshop from September 24 to October 7, 2000. The workshop focused on inspection procedures and methods, provided laboratory training where appropriate, and included a trip to the Zambia Sugar plant. Since the implementation of that program, Zambia Sugar has expressed satisfaction with law enforcement efforts. UNICEF subsequently funded workshops at the district level, using reproductions of the training manuals that had been produced with MOST funding.

Outcome reported by social determinants: 
Vulnerable groups


Revision log

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 11:36ginaContribEdited by william_nkoom.published
Thu, 10/08/2015 - 11:36ginaContribEdited by AnnaLartey.draft