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[afro-nets] Rebuttal to 'How Vitamins Could Change the World' (3)

Rebuttal to 'How Vitamins Could Change the World' (3)
From: "Ted Greiner" <>

While throwing nutrient supplements at poor people is clearly
not the answer, there is an element in the UNICEF message that
has too long been ignored and this in itself is a kind of insult
to the poor.

The North American and certain UN donor agencies "have their
way" with developing countries regarding the solutions to micro-
nutrient malnutrition problems -- which always end up being
pharmaceutical (give people pills or fortify foods with nutri-
ents) -- because the Europeans and more socially concerned UN
agencies ignore nutrition. They complain that the long-term so-
lution to micronutrient problems is improvement of the diet, but
never put any money behind this and never do battle in policy
forums (where developing country speakers calling for improved
diets are commonly politely informed that they are at a scien-
tific not a political forum).

It is a common error to assume that malnutrition problems can
and should be dealt with passively -- that is, they will be
solved if we do a good job achieving our other goals for equita-
ble development and therefore need no special direct attention
and funding. We expect that if the right conditions are met, the
poor will pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But decade af-
ter decade we continue to ignore the fact that poor people can-
not achieve their potentials when deficiencies of calories, iron
and iodine sap their physical strength, numerous deficiencies
make them more susceptible to disease, and several deficiencies
reduce their ability to learn.

Ted Greiner
Associate Professor
International Child Health
Uppsala University, Sweden

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