A campaign to eradicate childhood blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency (VAD) has raised more than $2 million and prevented 5.5 million children from going blind due to lack of vitamin A in 16 countries around the world.
Launched in California in 2006, Operation 20/20 aims to eradicate VAD-related childhood blindness worldwide by the year 2020. It targets the 140 million children worldwide who suffer from VAD and aims to expand its coverage to 7.5 million in 2008. "Vitamin A supplementation is proven to be a contributing factor to the dramatic decrease in worldwide deaths among children under the age of 5," said executive director of Vitamin Angels, Howard Schiffer. "Just 25 cents provides a child with the two high-dose vitamin A capsules they need each year to prevent blindness."
Vitamin Angels hosted a fundraising gala at the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore in September, where more than 300 executives from the natural products industry helped raise more than $1 million, about two thirds of what is required to fund the programme in 2008.
In a statement Vitamin Angels said: "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."