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President Bill Clinton (right) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (left) on stage with Chris Elias (back row, center) and other representatives of organizations making commitments at the Clinton Global Initiative. Photo: Clinton Global Initiative.

More than 800,000 Indian children may soon get school lunches that include rice fortified with nutrients essential to their healthy growth and development, thanks to a commitment announced this week by PATH and our partners at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting in New York.

The commitment will work toward incorporating Ultra Rice®, a fortified food developed by PATH and manufactured in India by Swagat Food Products, into the Indian government’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme—a free lunch program that reaches 120 million schoolchildren in India. An existing Ultra Rice pilot program in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, already delivers lunches fortified with Ultra Rice to 60,000 schoolchildren every day, six days per week.

Micronutrient deficiencies threaten the health, development, and productivity of people worldwide. Ultra Rice is a micronutrient delivery system that packs nutrients such as iron, thiamin, folic acid, and zinc into manufactured grains made from rice flour. These grains are then blended with locally milled rice—typically at a ratio of 1 to 100.

Working with Ultra Rice’s manufacturer, the Indian government, and local kitchens that participate in the government’s Mid-Day Meal Scheme, PATH is seeking funds to expand the use of Ultra Rice within the Indian school lunch program. With additional resources garnered though partnerships initiated at CGI, the commitment could have considerable impact: a short-term injection of funding not only promises to improve the health of children, but to increase demand for Ultra Rice. Building market for the product, PATH believes, will eventually bring down the cost of Ultra Rice, making it more affordable for governments in India and across the developing world.

Commitments to improve lives

Claudia Harner-Jay discussing how PATH works the public and private sectors on health technologies for low-resource settings. Photo: Clinton Global Initiative.

Started in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative encourages members to collaborate on “commitments to action” that provide practical solutions to global issues. In addition to working on the Ultra Rice project, PATH is partnering this year in efforts led by the UN Special Envoy for Malaria, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Foundation, and PSI to reach the United Nations target of reducing by half sickness and death related to malaria by 2010.

PATH’s previous Clinton Global Initiative commitments include:

  • Reducing sickness and death related to cervical cancer by introducing vaccines against human papillomavirus in the developing world.
  • Increasing access to malaria prevention and control in Zambia and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Helping to eradicate epidemic meningitis by introducing a new meningitis vaccine in Burkina Faso.
  • Improving newborn survival by developing and distributing newborn care kits in south Asia, Africa, and other regions where infant death rates are high.

At this year’s meeting, Claudia Harner-Jay, senior commercialization officer at PATH, will discuss how PATH works with public- and private-sector partners to encourage introduction and adoption of appropriate health technologies in areas with few resources. PATH representatives also will showcase the organization’s projects at the CGI Exchange, a forum for members to present their work.

Dr. Christopher J. Elias, PATH’s president and CEO, serves on the Clinton Global Initiative’s advisory board for Global Health.

More information

Posted September 24, 2009.

Ultra Rice® is a registered trademark of Bon Dente International, Inc. in the United States.