Fast Track to End Hunger and Poverty: The Family Health Approach
INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON POVERTY ALLEVIATION STRATEGIES: EXPERIENCES AND NEW IDEAS, Vol. 2, pp. 476-483, Kunduraci, Nevzat Fırat , Orhan Bilge, Ersin Kaya, Sümer Incedal, Ekrem DombayciI and Başak Akin, eds., SATA Publishing and Printing House, 2010
21 Pages Posted: 31 May 2011
Date Written: October 13, 2010
Poverty and hunger are inextricably inter-linked. While poverty most often leads to hunger, hunger and the resultant malnutrition expressed in low BMIs and the prevalence of anemia often result in the inability to earn an adequate living, hence poverty. While most developing countries have in place numerous interventions to end hunger and reduce malnutrition, the focus of these efforts has always been on women and children. In the long run, no doubt, a healthy mother will give birth to healthy children, growing into adults capable of earning adequate wages, and eventually, breaking the hunger-poverty nexus. However, the validity of this simple equation is belied by the results in many developing countries. This paper contends that efforts to improve the nutrition levels of women and children alone are insufficient to ensure a healthy population and a breakthrough in the stranglehold of poverty.
It is accepted that in South Asia, adult males have first choice from the food basket. As such, male malnutrition was never considered an issue in nutrition policy. Recent data, however, reveals little difference in male and female nutrition levels. The issue here is that in families where the adult male, who is often the main wage earner, is severely debilitated, food supplements for women and children may be of little value. It has often been stated that nutrition interventions focused on women and children have the highest rates of return. However, it is quite feasible that broadening the safety net to include interventions for adult males could bring in higher economic benefits and improve outcomes within a generation as against the next generational outcomes of mother and child focused programmes. The analysis utilizes country level WHO/World Health Survey data on adult malnutrition and state level NFHS-3 data for India.
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