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Lancet. 2005 Mar 12; 365:935.Just a few days before the tsunami disaster of Dec 26, 2004, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) published a document on the state of food insecurity in the world. In this document, FAO’s Director-General, Jacques Diouf, stated that 5 million children die every year because of lack of food. This means more than 400 000 deaths every month. In other words, since the tsunami tragedy, the world has silently witnessed a number of deaths which is nearly three times that seen on Dec 26, and which continues to increase at a rate of more than 13 000 each day. Now the risk is that the absolutely necessary and indispensable financial assistance for the victims of the tsunami tragedy will come at the expense of other funds set aside for assistance to countries affected by famine. (excerpt)
Hunger and malnutrition: the determinant of development: the case for Africa and its food and nutrition workers.
East African Medical Journal. 1992 Aug; 69(8):424-7.Hunger and malnutrition in Africa have been on the increase since the 1960s. During the 1970s, it is estimated that 30 million people were directly affected by famine and malnutrition. About 5 million children died in 1984 alone. In Mozambique during the 1983-84 famine, about 100,000 people perished. In Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, Liberia, and Angola armed conflicts compound the problem. Ethiopia alone had 9 million famine victims in 1983. The most common form of malnutrition in Africa is protein energy deficiency affecting over 100 million people, especially 30-50 million children under 5 years of age. Almost another 200 million are at risk. Iron deficiency, commonly called anemia, also affects 150 million people, mostly women and children. Iodine deficiency leads to disorders like mental retardation, cretinism, deafness, abortion, low resistance to disease, and goiter and this affects 60 million with about 150 million more at risk. Vitamin A deficiency causes blindness and low resistance to disease and affects about 10 million. Protein energy deficiency is treated by using donated foods in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, day care centers, and feeding centers. There are no community programs for anemia, or vitamin A or iodine deficiencies. Vaccines for preventing and drugs for treating diseases that cause malnutrition are imported. Therefore, African food and nutrition professionals met in 1988 and created the Africa Council for Food and Nutrition Sciences (AFRONUS) to eliminate famine and malnutrition in Africa. Activities have started in: 1) developing contacts between the workers in food and nutrition; 2) assessing the situation of food and nutrition in Africa; 3) developing an action plan; 4) implementing the plan; and 5) monitoring progress. Food and Nutrition Policy Guidelines have also been prepared by AFRONUS for food and nutrition workers. Africa has enough natural resources to solve the problem of hunger and malnutrition, but these resources have to be harnessed.