Vitamin A, which is essential for the functioning of the immune system and the healthy growth and development of children, is usually acquired through a healthy diet. However, vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a severe public health problem in 73 countries3. Vitamin A deficiency is a major contributor to childhood morbidity and mortality.
Vitamin A deficiency can be corrected by a number of complementary strategies including improving diet, food fortification and supplementation. The provision of high dose vitamin A supplementation every 4-6 months protects against blindness and also has a significant impact on the health of children 6-59 months of age, reducing the risk of death from all causes by 24%4.
(3) Defined as a prevalence of serum retinol <0.70 µmol/L in 20% or more of preschool-age children.
(4) Vitamin A supplementation for preventing morbidity and mortality in children from 6 months to 5 years of age. Imdad A et al. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2010, (12):CD008524. Accessed 18 October 2013.