Coverage at a crossroads: New directions for vitamin A supplementation programmes

In where under-five mortality is high and vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem, two high-dose supplements of vitamin A per year, spaced four to six months apart, can strengthen children’s immune systems and improve their chances of survival.<br> During much of early childhood – from 6 months to 5years of age – two high doses of vitamin A every year can prevent blindness and hearing loss, boost children’s immunity against diseases like measles and diarrhoea and provide critical protection against death. Like all forms of malnutrition, vitamin A deficiency is a marker of inequality. In countries where diets are lacking in vitamin A and infections and deaths are prevalent, supplementation programmes give vulnerable children a better chance to survive, develop and thrive.