Feature Article of Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Columnist: Bassah, Dominic
Three years from the deadline of the SMART goals set in 2000, the realization of the eight MDGs still continue to remain a mirage especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Twelve years ago the convened leaders set down the MDGs, a series of collective priorities for peace and security ,poverty reduction ,the environment and human rights-essential steps for the advancement of humankind, as well as for the immediate survival of a portion of it.
A vital aspect of Human life that can give impetus to the realization of the MDGs has been given little attention if not relegated to the background. The Nutritional Status of the citizens cannot be taken for granted if the MDGs are to be realized. The question now is what is nutrition? If we were to conduct a survey on what nutrition is, the outcome would tell us why little importance is attached to nutrition in the country.
Nutritional status is a key indicator of poverty and hunger, poor health, and inadequate education and social conditions. Good nutrition continues to be crucial in achieving the health, education and economic goals spelt out in the MDGs. The contribution of nutrition in the realization of the MDGs can therefore not be underestimated.
Poor nutritional status and food insecurity are correlated with poverty and social inequity and therefore there is much overlap between initiative to fight poverty, alleviate malnutrition and ensure food security and promote sustainable livelihood. Poor nutrition and food insecurity are correlated with poverty and social inequity. There is therefore much overlap between initiate to fight poverty, alleviate malnutrition, ensure food security and promote sustainable livelihood.
The achievement of universal primary education has nutrition as an integral input because the learning ability of children is compromised by hunger and malnutrition. Hungry and or malnourished children cannot learn well. Generally, improved nutritional status improves educational outcomes. Good nutrition must be recognized as an essential component of all projects aimed at attaining universal primary education.
Better nutrition among women coupled with improved food and nutrition-related knowledge, attitudes and practices by women and children can ensure women empowerment and gender equality.
Reduction in child mortality as spelt out in the MDGs must be centered on nutrition in the sense that good nutrition saves lives. About five million annual deaths can be traced to hunger and malnutrition. Programs aimed at improving household food security and nutrition information have a bearing on child survival.
All efforts towards improving maternal health will prove futile if maternal malnutrition is not addressed Improving maternal health through nutrition ensures intergeneration improvement in health since a healthy mother gives birth to a healthy child.
HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases can best be combated through good nutrition. Drugs as well as good nutrition also boost the immune system and retard the progression of HIV to AIDS and also fight off secondary infections.
Individuals cannot conserve the environment when their basic needs are not met. Hunger and poverty compel people to over exploit the environment. Community based nutrition programs have proved successful in addressing environmental degradation.
The multi-sectoral approach employed in nutritional interventions makes it easier for collaboration at the local, national and global levels. Nutrition is not an Island since it cuts across all other sectors other than health and agric.
The attention given to nutrition as an input in achieving the MDGs has long been relegated to the background. Nutrition interventions in the country are mostly aimed at management of malnutrition. It must be understood that malnutrition even in its minimal have serious consequences on the livelihood of an individual most of which are not reversible. Nutrition actions coupled with other strategies will significantly contribute to the achievement of the MDGs.