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    Summary analysis of nutrition status in Bangladesh.

    Court AL; Farooq SA

    In: UNICEF Bangladesh. Situation analysis report, prepared for UNICEF Bangladesh country programming. [Dacca] Bangladesh, UNICEF, 1977 Apr. 35-47.

    Although much work has been undertaken regarding the various aspects of nutrition in Bangladesh, the problems of malnutrition seem to be as bad as they ever were. Protein-calorie malnutrition, diarrheal disease-related malnutrition and vitamin A deficiency are still major problems. The situation has been further aggravated by natural and man-made disasters. As well as being linked to such factors as food availability, medical service delivery, environmental sanitation and education, malnutrition is also affected by economic and social factors like low salaries and employment levels and women's status. The 1st 5-year Plan of Bangladesh (1973-78) outlined as a general strategy for improving nutritional standards, increased supplies of cheap calorie and proteinous food, e.g., fish, animal products, vegetables and sugar. Specific aims of the plan included a concentration to improve and extend pulse and groundnut cultivation. However, it was only with the setting up of a National Nutrition Council in 1976, that concrete attention has focused on nutrition education. A brief review of food production and food aid shows that the latter can be counter-productive if not targeted at vulnerable groups or when it is not necessarily related to need as it is to surplus in the donor countries, for it may act as a disincentive to local farmers as they might not be able to meet the competition from food aid. The preliminary report of the Bangladesh Nutrition Survey of 1975-76 underlines an overall reduction in per capita food intake since the 1962-64 survey. The Report also shows that food intake varies seasonally with a potential period of protein-calorie deficiency between June and November. Government attempts to effect a rapid increase in food production have concentrated on methods of irrigation, e.g., deep and shallow tubewell irrigation, which require a certain level of community involvement. These are poorly utilized, leaving a large proportion of land, belonging mainly to small farmers, fallow during the dry season. The logistics problem faced in the various attempts to reach vulnerable groups with food aid seems to point to an overcomplicated distribution mechanism. UNICEF, in cooperation with the government, has attempted to direct assistance to the poor through increased work and service availability, increased fish availability, and the dissemination of nutrition information through journals and demonstration projects. Included in the report are tables illustrating food intake, food grain requirements and availability, land utilization and irrigation, yield of major crops, wages and income distribution.
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