SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Oct. 14 -- Vitamin Angel Alliance, a nonprofit organization that provides health education and nutritional supplements to medically underserved communities around the world, has announced a new campaign beginning this fall with a goal of eliminating vitamin A deficiency-related blindness in children by 2020.
The international drive by the humanitarian, nonsectarian organization will be launched with a grant from Johnson & Johnson, a multinational company headquartered in New Brunswick, N.J., to fund the first year of a three-year initiative aimed at protecting six million at-risk people. This phase includes administration of high-dose vitamin A supplements to 250,000 children in year one in India, a country with at least nine million sightless people.
"Vitamin A deficiency childhood blindness is a global health crisis of alarming proportions," says Howard Schiffer, executive director and founder of Vitamin Angel Alliance. "This ravaging form of blindness is preventable with vitamin A supplements at a cost of about five cents per child per year, and we will reach six million children, lactating mothers and infants in the three- year pilot program. We are thrilled to have Johnson & Johnson, a world leader in health care, as our partner as we launch this effort in Calcutta and other provinces in India."
Vitamin Angel Alliance has distributed vitamin A supplements to prevent childhood blindness since its founding, Schiffer says, with vitamins and supplements donated by health care companies. "This new campaign is a shift in focus," he adds. "We are asking philanthropic organizations, or charitable arms of companies such as Johnson & Johnson, to donate funds to purchase enough vitamin A to treat the tens of millions of children around the world who are at risk of permanent blindness and early mortality."
By administrating high-dose vitamin A to infants and children at critical stages of development, the vitamin A campaign will ensure healthy mental and physical growth of these children. The program includes an accompanying tablet of Vermox, an anthelmintic which treats parasitic worms thereby improving the absorption of vitamin A.
Lactating mothers will receive a vitamin A capsule to improve the vitamin A status of infants.
Vitamin Angel Alliance ( www.vitaminangel.org ) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization providing basic nutrition to people in need since 1994. Vitamin Angel Alliance responds to the most pressing health concerns identified by the communities requesting its assistance. Nutritional products are contributed to the Alliance by an ever-enlarging association of Vitamin Angels -- a consortium of nutritional supplement manufacturers, distributors and retailers. These goods are then donated to charitable health care facilities and programs located in countries across the globe, including the United States. Last year Vitamin Angel Alliance distributed more than twelve million nutritional supplements to over forty countries around the world. To learn more, visit www.vitaminangel.org .