Prevention of Spina Bifida Epidemic – Verkhovna Rada Health Committe Review of Legislation

On November 29, 2017, a round table on “Ways to Reduce Child Mortality” was initiated and conducted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Health Care.

Among the participants there were deputies of Ukraine, representatives of the Administration of the President of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, other interested ministries and departments, the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, scientific medical institutions, international organizations, as well as specialists, experts and media representatives.

Among the speakers at the round table there was the Head of the OMNI-net Prof. W. Wertelecki, who presented the report on “Congenital Malformations as One of the Leading Causes of Infant Mortality. Ways of Controlling Epidemics of Neural Tube Defects in Ukraine”. The report showed that in Ukraine there is a persistent epidemic of spina bifida (rates in Ukraine are the highest in Europe), which could be reduced by the mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid. The costs of such an initiative make up about 1/20 of the cost of medical care for such children. In addition, Ukraine already produces enriched flour for export, but not for Ukrainians. It has also been proved by the experience of more than 80 countries that such a strategy is efficient, cost-effective and safe. In fact, the legislation of the USSR included the enrichment of flour, and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine for 10 years has recommended that women of reproductive age take folic acid pills preconceptionally as a safe vitamin. The introduction of fortification will save 1000 children annually from death or disability. The implementation of this initiative will reduce infant mortality by 15% in Ukraine.

Prof. W. Wertelecki proposed the submission of the prepared legislation for the full vote by Parliament. The Health Committee approved the proposal and subsequently it was reviewed by other relevant ministries.

P.S. Addendum (2023): Legislative proposal for folic acid fortification of grains was resubmitted in 2021. War circumstances prevented completion of the process.

Prof W. Wertelecki is speaking
Irina Sysoienko (Deputy Chairman of the Committee, moderator of the round table)
Updated: 2023/07/28 — 14:53