25 Jun 2009 11:14

China launches folic acid fortification program

Shanghai. June 25. INTERFAX-CHINA - China will distribute folic acid free-of-charge to women before and in early pregnancy in rural areas this year, the Ministry of Health (MoH) announced on June 25.

According to the announcement, the program, one of the new public health services introduced under the health care reform, aims to cover 60 percent of women who plan to get pregnant in rural areas by the end of this year. The figure will be increased to 90 percent by the end of 2011.

Local governments will be in charge of organizing folic acid procurement bidding exercises and pharmaceutical companies that produce 0.4 milligram folic acid tablets and have adverse drug reaction insurance coverage will be eligible to participate in the bidding, the announcement said.

"Our company has been awarded the contract to supply folic acid tablets in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region's Guilin City. The contract is worth RMB 1.2 million ($175,202) for a year's supply, starting July this year," a sales department staff from Tianjin Feiying Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., who preferred to remain anonymous, told Interfax on June 25. Health bureaus in some regions carried out folic acid procurement bidding exercises prior to the announcement.

Folic acid, also know as vitamin B9 or folacin, can help prevent neural tube defects in newborns.