Select a classmate’s post from week three. For this post, pretend to be the Finance Minister concerned with using economic investments to strengthen social, cultural, and environmental factors as they relate to health issues.
Create a response that either accepts, denies, or will reconsider with revisions the proposed intervention in the policy brief. The decision to accept, deny, or revise and resubmit must be based upon cultural and/or environmental factors in the country.
In your response, write a post that evaluates whether or not the classmate considered culture and environment in their proposed intervention. If so, is their analysis or interpretation correct? Regardless of your classmates post, what cultural and environmental factors should be considered to make improvements on the health issue discussed in the policy brief? Will the proposed intervention show improvement in local cultural / environmental factors or will it likely do more harm? Provide some data or scholarly references to support your position.
Remember to include a thesis, body content to support your thesis, and concluding remarks. Strong posts will make sure to include and define key course concepts in global health.
Cultural factors examples: role of family or community; religion; views on health and wellness; views on death and dying; Eastern/western/alternative/traditional medicine; beliefs about causes and treatments of illness;gender roles and relationships; sexuality, fertility, childbirth; food beliefs and diet.
Environmental factors examples: water; sanitation; waste disposal; hygiene; housing; exposure to toxicsubstances; indoor and outdoor air pollution; poor drainage; climate change; ozone depletion.
Over half of infants in Zimbabwe show signs of malnutrition. Right now, food is much costlier due to political competition and most of the population can afford very little. Zimbabwe is currently defined as a food deficient country and this is clear through the extremely high percentage of children suffering from malnourishment right now. Policies need to be changed to give Zimbabwe citizen’s rights to how much food can cost and the amount of fluctuation the prices have. There also needs to be more educational opportunities for families so they may become more familiar with symptoms of malnutrition as well as healthier ways to feed their children. The education of adults along with children will make more jobs available to low income families letting them afford better food options for their family as well. There also needs to be more funding into feeding centers, helping children get back into better health. However, although food stores are a good way to make children healthy again, education and lower food costs are the most efficient long-term solution to help lower malnutrition rates over all.
Nature and Magnitude:
Approximately 12,000 children suffer from malnutrition in Zimbabwe right now (Lambardo, 2016), and an estimated 50,000 children are severely underweight (Mutseyekwa, Singizi, 2008). The unfortunately large numbers do not end there, 25% of child deaths are due to malnutrition (The Zimbabwean, 2013) which correlates with the statistic that one in four children in Africa are victims of malnutrition. Although malnutrition is a problem throughout Zimbabwe, rural areas are the most affected by malnutrition. Malnutrition is very prominent in Africa, and Zimbabwe is no acception.
Malnutrition, although spread across most of Zimbabwe, it is most common in rural, low income areas of Zimbabwe. It is not as common in the more urban parts of the country. A big reason for this is that in rural areas, people are more dependent on farm land and have significantly lower access to packaged food. Being dependent on farmland causes malnutrition more commonly due to having the, as many refer to it, the “lean-season” awaiting the next harvest, and limits families to the crops being produced based on supply and demand. There is also a large lack of education, more prominently in these areas that makes malnutrition even more prominent in rural, low income areas of Zimbabwe.
Malnutrition can cause many side-affects, and two strains of it are extremely wide spread here. Kwahiorkor, which is caused by extreme protein deficiency and causes the body to hold onto fluid (Healthline, n.d.) Another very common form of malnutrition in Zimbabwe is Marasmus, which is really just caused by an extreme deficiency in calories. These sicknesses can cause swollen faces and bellies along with an extreme lack of energy. Another issue with malnutrition is stunted growth, making so many children significantly smaller then they should be at their given age. Malnutrition also makes children more prone to things such as respiratory infections, which adds to the list of reasons young children are so often taken to the hospital.
Economic and Social Consequences:
The malnutrition of our nation will negatively impact us in many ways. With so many children becoming sick and malnourished, it is costing the government large quantities of money to pay for government owned hospitals and feeding clinics. Also, as so many children are getting sick, they are not attending school, making an even higher number of the population uneducated. Also, malnutrition impairs these children’s mental and physical development, both of which lead to a lack of education. Not being educated leads to less skills and knowledge in the work force, keeping people at small and low-income jobs, leading to slower development of the economy. Already, 12,000 children suffer from malnutrition (Lambardo, 2016). If we don’t change the system soon, more and more will fall victim to it.
Priority Action Steps:
Although some steps have been made in the right direction; providing more funding for feed clinics and some changes in food and nutrition policies, there still needs to be more drastic changes in funding and policies to see significant change.
One thing that we could do is food fortification/biofortification. Adding vital minerals and nutrients to foods would drastically decrease malnutrition and would only cost up to 0.25 cents per person per year. Putting nutrients into things such a millet, -a large staple in rural Zimbabwe- would greatly decrease malnutrition. This would overall save the government money, over paying for hospital bills of the many people who suffer from malnourishment.
Another solution is to give more funding to farmers, as well as female farmers. One of the problems is that female farmers don’t get compensated as much as male farmers do, thus they produce less, due to lack of seeds, tools, and other resources. Studies have shown that if women had the same access to the resources of male farmers, their crop outputs would exceed men’s by 23 percent (Hawkin, 2017). Giving women more resources would significantly lower hunger rates, as they’d be able to produce more on the same amount of land.
Lastly, we provide educational opportunities to children, adults and parents alike, so they understand their own nutrition more. Being in low income circumstances makes it more challenging to get everything needed for a healthy diet, but having more education could still help with that, and allow people to get better jobs, allowing them to make more money and be able to provide more nutrient rich foods to their children. This both lowers malnutrition rates and boosts the economy. Even without a significantly large amount of money given to education, simply promoting it and providing teachers would help significantly. Overall, the increase of malnutrition negatively impacts the government and Zimbabwe itself, it will certainly improve Zimbabwe, and the planet, if we make these changes as soon as we can.
Mutseyekwa, T. & Singizi, T. (October 2008). Treating Child Malnutrition as Zimbabwe Grappling with Raging Inflation. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/zimbabwe_46161.html
Lombardo, C. (October 2016). 7 Startling Malnutrition in Zimbabwe Statistics and Facts. Retrieved from: http://visionlaunch.com/7-startling-malnutrition-zimbabwe-statistics-facts/
Healthline (n.d.) What you should know about Marasmus. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/marasmus
Hawken, P. (2017). Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming. New York: Penguin Books.