This Sprinkles Is Actually Good For Children
When you first come to know of Sprinkles and its simple use, you can’t help thinking as to why this wonderful supplement is being distributed in just a handful of countries. This supplement was invented in the late 1990s as part of the Sprinkles Global Health Initiative (SGHI) of UNICEF. It encapsulates an innovative treatment for anemia, which is the most pervasive disease among children of the world. The irony is that while anemia goes largely unnoticed and untreated in the world, Sprinkles has failed to gain much recognition either.
Anemia in Children
According to the WHO, about 300 million children are suffering from this disease, which is half of the total children under age 5 in the world. While kids complain of listlessness, lack of concentration and vulnerability to illness, parents are clueless about the actual reason behind their condition. Although the immediate effects of anemia go away by the time the kid advances in the school, the disease has long term impact on the body’s immune system, which can proceed into the adulthood too. Therefore, this disease is not to be ignored at any cost.
The Sprinkles Story
Invented by Dr. Stanley Zlotkin, a pediatrics professor at the University of Toronto, Sprinkles was a part of a UNICEF program, which aimed at finding effective means to treat childhood anemia or malnutrition in poor countries such as India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The normal treatment available for malnutrition till then were iron supplements, administered in the form of unpleasant smelling and tasting pills or syrups. It was hard to administer these supplements to children because of obvious reasons. That is why Zlotkin’s Sprinkles, a specially coated powder supplement was nothing short of revolutionary product. Sprinkles is made up with iron, zinc, Vitamin A as well as other essential vitamins and minerals. The children had to simply sprinkle (thus the name) this supplement over their food, which could be a porridge or something else, and eat it. The product boasted of not having any side effects or bad taste, thus, making it popular among children.
The Dismal Situation
At present, out of the 300 million malnourished children in the world, only 13.6 million are receiving Sprinkles. As Zlotkin says, “We have only scratched the surface. There is a long way to go.” Considering the fact that the supplement was first invented more than a decade ago, it is shameful that it is currently distributed only in a few countries like Bolivia, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and the Dominican Republic. There are studies to support the importance of micronutrients in maintaining perfect health conditions in children. A British and Pakistani research has found that administering Vitamin A supplements properly could save 24% of children from dying. A group of economists, called the Copenhagen Consensus, prepared a list of the most effective aid interventions in the world and micronutrient supplements were on top of the list. While it is known that there are many more poor countries or poor populations, which need this supplement, what is stopping us from spreading Sprinkles far and wide? While compliance is an issue because people take time to convert to a specific line of thought, it is not reason enough.
While Celebrities endorse the Sprinkles cupcake shop to no end, it is high time that attention should be paid to the good variety of Sprinkles, which are not calorie-laden cupcakes, but life-saving sachets of supplements, which cost a few cents. It is the responsibility of the governments to ensure that the needy children in the population have access to this wonderful supplement so that they are also able to enjoy a healthy adult life like everybody else.
Image Courtesy: sghi