(P14-019-20) Advances from the International Thiamine Alliance
Objectives: Thiamine deficiency disorders, including beriberi, remain a pressing public health problem. Without rapid recognition of symptoms and treatment, it is often fatal, especially in infants, and can have lasting neurological effects for survivors. Thus our objective is to create an alliance of country representatives, public health professionals, physicians and researchers who can quantify the prevalence of thiamine deficiency disorders globally and create control and prevention strategies.
Methods: The first meeting of this international thiamine alliance was held in November 2019 to discuss the prevalence of thiamine deficiency disorders and devise strategies to improve thiamine status in at-risk populations.
Results: This alliance creates the first community of practice for thiamine deficiency. As a result of this meeting and recent data, there is growing recognition that thiamine deficiency is not localized to small areas within Southeast Asia, but covers a much broader area to include much of South and Central Asia, including areas of Kashmir and Assam in India and Bhutan. Challenges in diagnosing thiamine deficiency based on symptoms or biomarkers have been major barriers to recognizing thiamine deficiency disorders.
Conclusions: This group is now working to improve assessments of thiamine deficiency and raising awareness among the public health and medical professionals in areas where the diets are low in thiamine to ensure that its diagnosis is not overlooked. In areas with a known prevalence of thiamine deficiency, efforts are underway to increase dietary intake of thiamine, provide supplements especially to pregnant and lactating women, and fortify foods to improve thiamine status.
Funding Sources: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Megan W. Bourassa
Associate Director New York Academy of Sciences New York, New York
Executive Director New York Academy of Sciences New York, New York