Press Release: An urgent call to action published in The Lancet Global Health

25 May 2022

The International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IF) together with partners from international organisations, medical and academic institutes are leading a campaign for a global action on preventable birth defects. Food fortification with folic acid is urgently needed to achieve the objectives of the 2010 World Health Assembly Resolution on Birth Defects and achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). 

On May 23 2022 the joint publication titled ‘Preventing birth defects, saving lives, and promoting health equity: an urgent call to action for universal mandatory food fortification with folic acid’ was published in The Lancet Global Health.

The authors include IF Secretary General Dr Roozen alongside a broad coalition of leading global experts. The publication highlights that despite the fact that the role of folic acid in reducing the prevalence of neural tube defects (NTDs) such as Spina Bifida has been known for over three decades, many countries have failed to implement mandatory food fortification with folic acid. 

Fortification of staple foods with folic acid is a safe, cost-effective and sustainable policy to substantially reduce the prevalence of NTDs including Spina Bifida. Unlike supplementation, food fortification does not require long-term compliance and reaches a broader demographic. This is vital as NTDs form in the first thirteen weeks of pregnancy, often before the pregnancy is discovered. 

The publication makes an urgent call for global action, urging the World Health Assembly to pass a resolution for universal mandatory folic acid fortification.

IF calls on WHO Member States, the European Union and all other stakeholders in the public, private and civic sectors to join the federation in this campaign

Read the Joint Press Release here.

For more information on the campaign for a WHA resolution see the IF website here.