What are the concerns regarding malnutrition in Africa?
Malnutrition is becoming more widespread, and has risen in the number of cases since the 1960's. Specifically, malnutrition is the body's deficiencies of nutrients, causing the body to not function properly. Malnutrition has become an increasing epidemic in both Africa and India, because of the vast quantity of people who live below the poverty line. Poverty, hunger and malnutrition are all inter-related, and solving a country's problem with one, will ease the elimination of the other two. Controversy, however, because the three are so intertwined, many people view it as tackling three very difficult problems at once.
Who is it happening to?
As stated above, malnutrition can be found world wide, affecting roughly one out of every twelve people3. The rate in Africa, however, is much higher, affecting one out of every three Africans. It has become an increasing concern as Africa is facing multiple problems, including, but not limited to: AIDS, wars and government corruption. Many African civilians have died from these, and some of the problems can be solved by simply supporting an African family. Malnutrition has also had a very deadly effect on children. One out of every eight babes is born under weight in Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately one hundred and seventy five children out of every thousand died under the age of five, mostly due to hunger and malnourishment. That is nearly twice as much as the global average of eighty one per thousand for all infant mortality. Mothers are also affected, one out of thirteen African mothers will die during to child birth1. Although due partly to improper medical care, poverty, hunger and malnourishment plays a huge part in many African deaths. Take into account the rising AIDS epidemic, and the average African life looks very bleak. Poverty, Hunger, Malnourishment, Disease; all things that are now common place in African Society. It is clear that Africa needs critical help in order to raise its current standard of living and save Africa from the modern horrors it suffers.
Who is involved?
Many non-profit organizations world wide have been formed to help combat malnourishment, poverty and hunger in Africa, one of the commonly known organizations being UNICEF. Some other organizations include: World Vision, CARE, Bread for the World Institute and Heifer.
Why is there malnutrition?
Malnourishment is caused by a deficiency in either proteins, minerals, and/or vitamins. As these are found in food sources, a lack of food, the main cause of hunger, can usually be associated with malnutrition because of globalization in that food can often be purchased almost anywhere. If the majority of a country's citizens are in deep poverty, then they may be able to only afford very little food, thus relating poverty to hunger, and thus malnourishment to poverty. Many vitamins can also be purchased or supplied, but once again, poverty often inhibits people who need these the most from being able to access them. Currently, it is using more resources to care for the malnourished than the healthy. "Reductions in hunger and improved nutrition convey considerable productivity gains as well as saving resources that otherwise would be used for the care of malnourished people."2 Education is also very important in reducing malnourishment, especially in women, who are predominately the persons who have the most influence over access to food and utilization of food in their families.4Another cause could be the mass migration from rural to urban areas as people attempt pursue a more promising city job over less productive farming5. Finally, it can be observed that malnutrition, caused by poverty further perpetuates poverty, as malnourished women grow up and bear underweight, malnourished children. These malnourished children are likely to become intellectually impaired, with less productive and creative capacities1.
1. Africa Recovery. www.un.org/ecosocdev/. 1998.
2. Copenhagen Consensus – Challenges and Opportunities: HUNGER AND MALNUTRITION. www.copenhagenconsensus.com 2004.
3. The world hunger problem: Facts, figures and statistics. library.thinkquest.org. 2000.
4. Interview with Bill Butz on Who Is Malnourished or Hungry in the World?. discuss.prb.org/conten. 2006.
5. Bioethics and Women in Africa. www.agoraforwomeninscience.com. 2006.