7.7  Prevention and control of zinc deficiency

Zinc is an essential nutrient for human health. It is a key factor for normal growth and in the fight against child illness and mortality in developing countries and therefore very important for public health. In addition, when zinc is provided as a supplement to children in lower-income countries, it reduces the frequency and severity of diarrhoea, pneumonia and possibly malaria. There is also some evidence that zinc supplementation of women during pregnancy may prevent adverse outcomes of pregnancy and contribute to increased infant weight gain and a reduced risk of infection.

Zinc supplements have been shown to increase the growth and weight gain of stunted or underweight children. Moreover, studies have shown that children who receive zinc supplements have lower death rates.

Approximately one third of the world’s population live in areas at high risk of zinc deficiency. The most vulnerable population groups are infants, young children, and pregnant and lactating women because of their additional requirements for this essential nutrient.

7.6  Prevention and control of vitamin A and iodine deficiencies

7.7.1  Zinc deficiency and the Millennium Development Goals