For the second consecutive year, Boiron has partnered with Vitamin Angels, a global non-profit organization working to reduce child mortality by connecting infants and children under five with vital nutrients. This past cold and flu season, we donated a percentage of sales to Vitamin Angels from boxes of Oscillococcinum packed in a specially-marked, custom display. The proceeds from each purchased box of Oscillo are enough to provide one child with vitamin A for one year. Today we welcome Ailene Sankur, Vitamin Angels’ social media strategist, as our guest blogger.
Before I began working for Vitamin Angels, I never thought about vitamin A. I took my multivitamins and my calcium, but the role vitamin A plays in my life, especially in my childhood development, never crossed my mind. I didn’t have to, because I grew up in the U.S., over the poverty level, and in a home where healthy home cooking was the norm. Without knowing it, I was always consuming foods that were fortified with vitamin A.
I learned here that many children around the world don’t have the same benefits I did growing up – they don’t have access to fortified foods and a balanced, varied diet full of vegetables and fruits. Many, because of poverty, have very little variation in their diets, creating a serious lack of nutrients, including vitamin A.
There are 190 million children worldwide who are vitamin A deficient. Vitamin A deficiency can be deadly; vitamin A builds strong immune systems as well as eyesight. The rate of infants and children contracting such common diseases as measles, malaria, diarrhea and acute respiratory tract infections is dangerously high. Battling these illnesses with weakened immune systems sadly cuts many lives short. Another serious effect is xerophthalmia, an eye disorder that can leave a child permanently blind. It’s an incredibly serious problem, and considering 1 in 3 children worldwide dies of malnutrition (including VAD), an urgent one.
I also learned that vitamin A supplementation is simple and cost-effective. Two high-dose capsules of vitamin A is enough for one child a year (given every six months). This alone can reduce mortality in children under 5 by about 24% in populations at risk of vitamin A deficiency. And it only costs a quarter for those two doses! Our Operation 20/20 program reached 25 million children with vitamin A last year.
Along with Operation 20/20, Thrive to Five connects pregnant and lactating women with prenatal vitamins, and children with multivitamins. Vitamin Angels was recently in Peru, where women in remote mountain villages thanked us for the prenatal vitamins they received – and said they experienced far less problems in their pregnancies. Teachers told us that before the children were receiving multivitamins, they were sleepy, inattentive and sickly looking, and now, after taking the vitamins for only a short while, they are more alert, attentive in class, and more responsive to their lessons. I think this video is a wonderful illustration of what we do.
Through Boiron’s generous support, we’ve connected 150,000 children with essential nutrients. Thank you, Boiron, for everything you do.