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July 22, 2010 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Malnutrition, the silent epidemic - Photojournalist Ron Haviv traveled to Bangladesh to document a silent epidemic that may lack the drama to make the nightly news, but has the power to undermine a world's worth of young lives: childhood malnutrition.
posted by kliuless (6 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fun. Bangladesh is essentially one of the worst places in the world to grow up, from a health perspective. No one's fault, really - just bad luck. Like plenty of developing countries, it's got shoddy water infrastructure, so the surface water quality can be dodgy. Unlike many other developing countries, Bangladesh has regular and severe flooding - which makes the water quality that much worse.

Ah, but wait! Bangladesh has aquifers! Surely the underground water supply can provide the populace with potable drinking water -

Oh. Wait. Arsenic? In the aquifers? Staggering amounts of the stuff? Enough that Bangladesh is one of the few places on Earth where chronic arsenecosis is relatively common? Tough break, Bangladesh.

The malnutrition is a helpful addition to the mix, I'm sure.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 10:08 AM on July 22, 2010


For context:

Here is a sample list of allowed foods on WIC. There are many, many issues with WIC, the way it is run and the allowed foods but for all its problems, prejudices and lobbying-bloat, you can put together a nutritionally complete meal on it. (Not many, and WIC-stretching slants buying choices away from balanced nutrition, but that's a different post.)

Also I would point out that while I have never heard of plumpynuts until today, I can't help thinking that plumpynuts would not be three times as expensive as corn and soy if we subsidised plumpynut production as heavily as we subsidise, say, corn and soy production.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:39 AM on July 22, 2010


Plumpynut wouldn't be as expensive as it is, if it wasn't for the patent protection on it. There is unfilled demand for it, and there are a lot of peanuts, and producers who would be happy to make it. But they can't, because it's patented.

The patentholders aren't exactly prototypical moustache-twirling capitalists, but I'm not sure they're doing the right thing either.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:57 AM on July 22, 2010


By protecting the patent on Plumpynut the patent holders are promoting local production, which will build long term capacity vs short term dumping from first world manufactures. The ultimate solution to malnutrition is not food handouts but increased local/regional food production and economic growth. As counter intuitive as their strategy sounds I think it is the right one.
posted by ChrisHartley at 12:35 PM on July 22, 2010


I'm going to ask if Bangladesh having maltrunition is best of web or even newsworthy. They've had this problem since the beginning of their nation state. Plumpynut's appearance makes me wonder...
posted by infini at 12:44 PM on July 22, 2010


Bread for the world, mentioned in one of the links, does a lot for the hungry. I specifically like their working closely with local people to provide what is actually needed, and using local resources or products. At least once a year a letter writing campaign is organized to encourage people in the U.S. to write to their Congressmen, asking their support for legislature that alleviates world hunger.
posted by francesca too at 1:46 PM on July 22, 2010


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