In early December 2017, the press service of the Rivne Regional State Administration reported that Rivne Province initiated the adoption of a nationwide program to fortify flour with folic acid. The province appealed with this proposal to the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine. This idea was supported by the decision of the session of the Rivne Regional Rada.
The fact is that according to recent scientific studies, the rate of Neural Tube Defects (NTD) in the Rivne Polissia is 21-25 cases per 10,000 newborn babies, and 14-18 in the non-Polissia part of the province. These data demonstrate an epidemic of NTD in Ukraine. These defects arise at the early stages of intrauterine development due to the lack of folic acid, and their manifestations are anomalies of the brain and spinal cord, skull and spine.
On December 4, there was a meeting of the OMNI-Net Head of the Board Prof. Wladimir Wertelecki with the Deputy Head of the Rivne Regional State Administration Svitlana Bohatyrchuk-Kryvko, administration of the V. Polishchuk Rivne Regional Clinical Diagnostic Center (RRCDC) and Medical Genetic Center, which operates in the RRCDC.
“Our organization and I personally have focused our efforts on the prevention of congenital malformations, including spina bifida and similar anomalies. Our team has drawn attention of Ukrainian and international society to the fact that the rate of NTD in Ukraine is the highest in Europe “, said Wladimir Wertelecki.
“We hope that our proposal will be supported, because the health of children is the priority number one – this is the future of our country. And we have the opportunity to influence the future, we have to think in advance”, Svitlana Bohatyrchuk-Krivko noted. Recetnly, she has published in the “Uriadovy Courier” newspaper (“Government Courier”) an article dedicated to the urgent need to fortify flour with folic acid. In addition, she believes that this issue should be presented to the Council of Europe to receive partner support in the implementation of the program.
For reference. Folic acid is a vitamin of group B. Women are recommended to take it before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects in their children. However, studies suggest that less than 10% of women follow such recommendations of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. Women start taking folic acid predominantly when they are registered in a maternity clinic. And it’s too late, because NTD appear before 27-28 days of pregnancy, when a woman is not aware of her pregnancy yet.
On December 5 Prof. W. Wertelecki and L. Yevtushok met with the General Director of the Volyn Regional Children’s Territorial Medical Center Serhiy Liashenko. Among the issues the dicussion there were:
- studying the impact of the consequences of the Chornobyl accident on the development and health of children;
- analysis of birth defects among the children’s population, including those living in areas affected by the accident;
- development of rehabilitation, including early, with integrated approach and continuity – perinatal center – neonatal center – neurological children’s department, rehabilitation in the conditions of the sanatorium for children with parents “Dachny” – cooperation with local pediatric services.
At the meeting, an agreement was reached to develop a plan for the establishment of the medical service for monitoring the development and health of children (catamnesis service) on the basis of the Volyn Regional Children’s Consultative Outpatient Clinic.
While in Rivne, Prof. W. Wertelecki participated in several Rivne TV broadcasts devoted to the prevention of neural tube defects and the life of the renowned professor: