SANTA BARBARA, CA, Oct 16, 2007 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- Last year, Vitamin Angels launched an aggressive campaign to eradicate childhood blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency (VAD) worldwide by the year 2020. Last year, Operation 20/20 successfully prevented 5.5 million children from going blind from lack of vitamin A in 16 countries around the world.
Still, up to 140 million children worldwide will suffer from VAD, which if left untreated can result in blindness and could eventually be the cause of their death. This deficiency is due to the severe malnutrition in these countries and the fact that the foods consumed are not fortified, which means receiving vitamin A and other supplementation is essential. In 2008, Vitamin Angels plans to expand their program with Operation 20/20 to reach 7.5 million children.
"Vitamin A supplementation is proven to be a contributing factor to the dramatic decrease in worldwide deaths among children under the age of 5," says Howard Schiffer, executive director of Vitamin Angels, the only group organized to completely eradicate vitamin A deficiency on the planet by the year 2020. "Just 25 cents provides a child with the two high-dose vitamin A capsules they need each year to prevent blindness."
To fund the program for a second year and expand their efforts, Vitamin Angels hosted their "Celebration of Angels" fundraising gala at the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore. Over 300 executives from the natural products industry attended the dinner and program and $1 million was raised, including cash contributions and vitamin A and anti-parasitic product donations needed for the Operation 20/20 campaign, which will cover 67 percent of what is needed to execute the program in 2008.
An additional $1.2 million was donated in other nutritional products such as multivitamins and drinks that can be used on distributions for other nutritional programs Vitamin Angels funds including: Children's Nutrition Campaign, Maternal Health Program and Disaster Relief. Additionally, professional services were also donated by publishers to help promote Vitamin Angels nationally through advertising space in prominent magazines.
"All the donations will help fight the global malnutrition epidemic and save the lives of children around the world," says Schiffer. "Malnutrition is the underlying cause of half of all deaths of children under the age of 5 and Vitamin Angels provides a low-cost, low-tech solution to this major global health problem."
Vitamin Angels recently received a four-star rating by Charity Navigator, the nation's largest and most utilized third-party evaluator of charities. The four-star rating is the highest level given to charities that have exceptional cost-effective programs. Ninety-five percent of all donations received by Vitamin Angels go directly to their nutrition programs. For a complete list of Vitamin Angels donors, more information about Vitamin Angels and how to help go to: http://www.VitaminAngels.org.