Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 11:40:25 PM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Let food be thy medicine

By
03rd-Nov-2018       
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all () »

Adelheid Onyango and Bibi Giyose :
When faced with a crisis, our natural reaction is to deal with its immediate threats. Ateka* came to the make-shift clinic with profuse diarrhoea: they diagnosed cholera. The urgent concern in the midst of that humanitarian crisis was to treat the infection and send her home as quickly as possible. But she came back to the treatment centre a few days later - not for cholera, but because she was suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Doctors had saved her life but not restored her health. And there were others too, who like Ateka eventually succumbed to severe malnutrition.  
This scene could have taken place in any of the dozen or so African countries that have suffered a cholera outbreak this year alone. Experience from managing epidemics has shown that when the population's baseline nutritional status is poor, the loss of life is high. Beyond malnutrition's damaging impact on bodily health, it weakens the immune system, reducing the body's resistance to infection and resilience in illness.
Most of the diseases that entail catastrophic costs to individuals, households and national healthcare systems in Africa could be avoided if everyone was living actively and consuming adequate, diverse, safe and nutritious food. After all, a healthy diet not only allows us to grow, develop and prosper, it also protects against obesity, diabetes, raised blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
On the flipside, integrating the treatment of malnutrition in the response to humanitarian crises assures survival and recovery better than an exclusive focus on treating diseases. As countries across the continent commit themselves to Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the same lessons need to apply. UHC is ultimately about achieving health and wellbeing for all by 2030, a goal that is inextricably linked with that of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition.
With 11 million Africans falling into poverty every year due to catastrophic out-of-pocket payments for healthcare, no one can question the need to ensure that everyone, everywhere, can obtain the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship.
As wealth patterns and consumption habits change, the African region is now faced with the triple burden of malnutrition - undernutrition coupled with micronutrient deficiencies and increasing levels of obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases.
In 2016, an estimated 59 million children in Africa were stunted (a 17 percent increase since 2000) and 14 million suffered from wasting - a strong predictor of death among children under five. That same year, 10 million were overweight; almost double the figure from 2000. It's estimated that by 2020, non-communicable diseases will cause around 3.9 million deaths annually in the African region alone.
Yet most of the diseases that entail catastrophic costs to individuals, households and national healthcare systems in Africa could be avoided if everyone was living actively and consuming adequate, diverse, safe and nutritious food. After all, a healthy diet not only allows us to grow, develop and prosper, it also protects against obesity, diabetes, raised blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. To tackle malnutrition, achieve UHC and ultimately reach the goal of health and wellbeing for all, governments need to put in place the right investments, policies and incentives.
As a starting point, governments need to assure the basic necessities of food security, clean water and improved sanitation to prevent and reduce undernutrition among poor rural communities and urban slum populations in Africa. For example, reduction in open defecation has been successful in reducing undernutrition in Ethiopia, parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Tanzania.
Then, to influence what people eat, we need to do a better job at improving food environments and at educating them about what constitutes a healthy diet. Hippocrates asserted that "all disease begins in the gut," with the related counsel to "let food be thy medicine."
Current research on chronic diseases is reasserting the health benefits of consuming minimally-processed staple foods which formed the basis of traditional African diets. This information needs to be communicated to the public through the health and education sectors and complemented by agricultural innovation to increase production of the nutrient-rich grains, crickets, herbs, roots, fruits and vegetables that were the medicine for longevity among our hardy ancestors.
But until that awareness is in place, policies and programmes are urgently needed to protect and promote healthy diets right from birth. This includes regulating the marketing of breast milk substitutes and foods that help establish unhealthy food preferences and eating habits from early childhood.
In South Africa, for example, the country with the highest obesity rate in Sub-Saharan Africa, the government has introduced a 'sugar tax' that is expected to increase the price of sugary soft drinks. The hope is that this will encourage consumers to make healthier choices and manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their products.
Finally, governments must create incentives - and apply adequately dissuasive sanctions when necessary - to help food manufacturers collaborate in promoting healthy diets through reformulation and informative labelling, for example.
In cases of food contamination, we are very quick to take products off the shelves. Yet we are much slower to react to the illnesses caused by processed foods containing high quantities of salt, sugars, saturated fats and trans fats.
A shortcut to achieving Universal Health Coverage is to reduce the need for costly treatments. And there is no better way to do that than to ensure that everyone, everywhere, preserves their health and has access to safe and nutritious food: let food be thy medicine.
*name has been changed

(Adelheid Onyango is Adviser for Nutrition at the World Health Organization's Regional Office for Africa and Bibi Giyose is Senior Nutrition and Food Systems officer, and Special Advisor to the CEO of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Sports »

'Best ever' Biles hails record 25 world medals


US gymnastics star Simone Biles won her fifth gold medal in the women's floor final Sunday to conclude her "best ever" world championships and take her career record to 25 medals.Biles, who won the beam title earlier in the day, also claimed an unrivalled 19th world gold following her previous ...

City »

President M Abdul Hamid witnessing the progress of different ongoing development projects in Itna Upazila of Kishoreganj on Monday.


International »

Any attempt to split China will be ‘crushed’, Xi warns during maiden visit to Nepal


PTI, Kathmandu :President Xi Jinping warned on Sunday that anyone attempting to "split" China will be "crushed" as he held wide-ranging talks with Nepal's top leadership and the two countries elevated their bilateral ties to strategic partnership and signed a slew of agreements, including a plan to build a trans-Himalayan ...

Editorial »

Expand infrastructural facilities in the universities


WHEN most of the country's public universities are going through a crisis situation at that time fresh unrest that erupted among the female students of Chattogram University has drawn the attention of concerned circles. Newspaper reports said female students of CU padlocked the gate of Jananetri Sheikh Hasina Hall on ...

Entertainment »

Ankhi Alamgir: Uncontested singer on stage performance


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Ankhi Alamgir is such a singer who always gets priority from the audience to perform on the stage shows. She has a capability to enthrall the audience by virtue of her outstanding performance. In fact, most of the senior and junior singers love her lot. Ankhi is ...

Entertainment »

Mouni Roy rubbishes rumours of dating a Dubai based banker


Mouni Roy has a made a smooth transition from television to films and is now promoting Made in China with Rajkummar Rao. But just like every actor has to face the brunt of controversies, one seems to have fallen right into Mouni's lap. She's been in the news for allegedly ...

Editorial »

Income inequality is the main barrier


THE number of bank accounts having more than Tk 1 crore in deposit has increased almost three times along with a five times rise in the deposited money in those accounts over the last 10 years. Economists said that such rise in high net-worth population indicated that the rich are ...

Sports »

Medvedev thumps Zverev to win Shanghai Masters title


Daniil Medvedev won his fourth title of a spectacular year with a thumping 6-4, 6-1 victory over Alexander Zverev in the Shanghai Masters final on Sunday.Victory for the 23-year-old Russian, contesting a sixth final in a row, was more evidence that he is the prime contender to join the "Big ...

Football »

Italy clinch place at Euro 2020 as Spain have to wait


Italy became the second team to qualify for Euro 2020 after a 2-0 win over Greece on Saturday, while three-time champions Spain edged closer to the finals despite conceding a stoppage-time equaliser away to Norway.Chelsea midfielder Jorginho dispatched a second-half penalty as Italy, wearing green kits for just the second ...

International »

Impeachment probe overshadows US 2020 Democratic race


Joe Biden faces scrutiny over Ukraine, Elizabeth Warren is surging and Bernie Sanders had a heart attack, but recent developments in the Democratic presidential battle are getting minimal attention, swamped by Washington's impeachment obsession.Most Democratic candidates are pounding the pavement in early voting states like Iowa, but they are finding ...

International »

Britain's PM Johnson pushes for last-ditch Brexit deal


Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to brief his ministers Sunday on progress in Britain's last-ditch efforts to strike a new Brexit agreement with the EU.Negotiators went behind closed doors for intensive talks in Brussels after Johnson outlined a new set of divorce terms to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on ...

City »

President asks govt officials to perform duties at designated places


President M Abdul Hamid on Sunday asked government officials to do their jobs properly staying at their assigned places to gear up the development of local areas as well as the whole country."Do your job properly staying at your respective assigned places. . . If you don't have such mentality ...

Editorial »

Steps needed to keep prices stable in kitchen market


THE prices of vegetables, fish and meat went up in the city's kitchen markets over the week ending Friday. Traders said that prices of most of the vegetables increased as the supply of summer vegetables became near end and the winter vegetables started hitting the market. The prices of most ...

Sports »

Boxer Fury to make pro wrestling debut in Saudi Arabia


AFP, Las Vegas :A pair of pugilistic big men will clash in a cross over of combat sports as former boxing champion Tyson Fury fights Braun Strowman in Saudi Arabia later this month.Fury will make the brief switch to professional wrestling when he fights on a World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. ...

International »

US bolsters Saudi defense against Iran with jets, missiles


AP, Washington  : The U.S. is deploying dozens more fighter jets and additional air defenses to Saudi Arabia, beefing up efforts to defend the kingdom against Iran even as President Donald Trump repeatedly insists that America must get out of endless Middle East wars.Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the deployments Friday ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news