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Acta Trop. 2005 Mar;93(3):275-82.

Vitamin A supplementation during war-emergency in Guinea-Bissau 1998-1999.

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Bandim Health Project, Apartado 861, 1004 Bissau Codex, Guinea-Bissau, West Africa.



Vitamin A supplementation is recommended by WHO in emergency situations.


To evaluate the impact of Vitamin A supplementation on childhood mortality in an emergency situation.


Since this was not a randomised study, we evaluated the impact in different ways; we used the variation in the delay of provision of Vitamin A in a step-wedged design, compared wartime with pre-wartime mortality and examined whether Vitamin A as a free commodity reduced cultural and social-economic inequalities in childhood mortality.


5926 children 6 months to 5 years of age, resident in four suburbs in the capital of Guinea-Bissau between October 1, 1998 and March 31, 1999.


From October 1, 1998 until the end of the war in 1999 all children present in the study area were offered Vitamin A at regular three-monthly visits to their homes.


Using the variation in the provision of Vitamin A, we found a slight non-significant reduction in mortality for children between 6 months and 5 years of age (mortality ratio (MR) 0.49; 95% CI 0.09-2.70). Comparing with a three-year period before the war, children offered Vitamin A at home during the war had a 12% reduction in mortality (MR 0.88; 0.41-1.87), whereas the overall impact of the war was an 89% increase in mortality (MR 1.89; 1.32-2.71). Vitamin A supplementation was associated with a reduction in cultural and socio-economic inequalities.


Vitamin A supplementation may have a beneficial impact on childhood mortality in an emergency situation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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