"Visions of World Benefit & Global Responsibility: Perspectives of McGill Students

Thursday, August 9, 2007


"We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the foundation of life. Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made and his senses are being developed. To him we cannot answer "Tomorrow". His name is "Today"." Gabriela Mistral, 1948
As a nutrition student a healthy diet is very important to me. Once I graduate I would like to increase the awareness about individual’s well-being through the awareness of healthy diets. However, another issue that I would first like to tackle is the problem of malnutrition. Malnutrition is increasing every year; almost 11 million deaths each year are among children under the age of five.
With the recent study by Unicef, it shows that more than one-quarter of all the children under the age of five in the developing world are underweight. That means about 146 million underweight children in developing countries. Of these 146 million underweight children, nearly three-quarters live in just 10 countries. Half of the 75 percent of the kids are found in South Asia and one- quarter in Sub-Saharan Africa.
[1] Since south Asia has more deaths caused by malnutrition and my roots are from India, I have chosen to focus on dealing with malnutrition there first. I would like to help eliminate malnutrition as much as possible.
A child that has not been eating the proper nutrients, researchers believe that by the age of five the damage has already been done to a child. It causes the child to be stunted, they do not grow as tall as they are suppose to for there age and they fail to grow to their full genetic potential (mentally and physically). Therefore we should focus on educating mothers with kids under the age of five about healthy eating.

We are aware that malnutrition in most countries is linked to poverty. However if we begin by the reduction of poverty it would take too many years. By educating pregnant mothers and mothers with kids under the age of five about healthy eating it will allow them to take better care for their kids effectively. Poor eating habits are related with low education of mothers. In addition, inadequate dietary intake is closely related to incomes and access to health care services, especially in rural areas. Therefore in order to resolve this problem more effectively we should focus on three aspects: education, job opportunities and micro credit. Firstly, we should attempt to solve this problem by sector rather than as a whole nation together.
The employment rate is increasing in India as is but we need to encourage the employers to help with their employee’s income. Employers would benefit if their workers are well nourished. Workers will be able to improve their performance, and as a result this will increase productivity for the company. We must drive employers in developing countries to raise the salaries, even a small raise will help parents better support their families.
For people living in poverty that are not able to find jobs we should introduce them to micro credits. Micro credits will allow families to take a small loan of fifty to five-hundred dollars to be able to afford all the food for their family. They will be able to buy chickens and cows to raise, plant trees to produce and sell fruit, buy cloth to make and sell clothes as well.
Finally we should educate the woman about eating properly for themselves and their kids. In each sector, by engaging volunteers organize a free class for women.
These three aspects should contribute in improving and maintaining the health of families.

In Progress
There are two successful strategies that have been used recently that I have found, one in Honduras and one in Mexico.
The strategy used in Honduras is called the AIN (Integrated Care of the Child) program. Trained community volunteers weigh all children under age two monthly. The weight of the child is recorded and monitored to ensure that each month the child maintains or gains weight. The community health volunteers with the parents discuss possible reasons for lack of growth. Specific advice is given for improving home care, feeding practices and related health behaviors. Before returning home, the health monitor and mother negotiate and agree on specific actions that the family will try to eat and remain healthy. The health volunteers use these monthly weighing sessions to reinforce good feeding and care practices and to identify growth faltering early so it can be addressed.
The second program is called Opportunidades in Mexico. There are two organizations, BanComun de la Frontera and Grameen de la Frontera, which focus on lending money in Mexico’s northern regions. This program has been decreasing the percentage of Mexicans living in extreme poverty by 17 percent since 1996. [3]

Mission: Strengthen health and nutrition actions to prevent and help reduce malnutrition and illness in young children.

Plan by sector:
- To ensure that families have enough funding to support family through micro credit or their employers
- Provide a food source
- Educate the maternal nutrition and care-seeking during pregnancy and educate them on newborn and young child feeding
- Engage educated volunteers in helping the program in weighing the babies/ kids monthly. Following by monitoring the weights and giving advice on how to maintain the kid’s health

Vision: To promote the awareness of healthy diets and the importance of them to ones health.

[1] http://www.unicef.org/about/index.html
[2] http://www.manoffgroup.com/prog_honduras.html
[3] http://mexico.foreignpolicyblogs.com/category/poverty-and-development/

No comments: