Malnutrition occurs when a person does not ingest sufficient nutrients or calories needed for optimum health. Malnutrition can impair the physical function of an individual to the point where he or she is no longer able to maintain adequate biological processes such as growth, pregnancy, lactation and resistance and recovery from disease.
Malnutrition is particularly prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) which faces numerous developmental and social injustices. Key factors that underlie the prevalence of malnutrition in Africa include climate change and political conflicts. Somalia for example has experienced droughts exacerbated by political conflict and civil war that have led to malnutrition among citizens particularly children whose age makes them more vulnerable.
Statistics reveal that SSA accounts for one third of undernourished children globally. This highlights that special attention needs to be paid to children to allow them to grow into adults who productively contribute to the growth of the continent.
In the case of Somalia, it is important for policy makers and other relevant stakeholders to participate in dialogue to tackle political conflicts, to ensure that the production of drought resistant crops is accelerated to tackle and prevent the adverse effects of malnutrition on health.
With population projected to increase from 1.01 billion in 2009 to 2 billion in 2050 , there is danger of rising populations putting a strain on food production. It is essential that family planning be well taught especially to religious groups that support unlimited children bearing.
In response to challenges such as those mentioned above, economies such as South Africa have adopted the use of genetically modified foods as a solution to reducing food shortages. Should we bridge the gap of food shortages using products that may have potential harmful effects to our health and wellbeing?
Studies on animals undertaken by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine have demonstrated that consuming genetically modified foods may lead to long term negative effects on health such as organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging and infertility. From this research, it is noted that the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) may help to tackle food shortages however in the long run the costs outweigh the benefits. To discourage GMO production it is important that the global health watch dog , the World Health Organization (WHO) bans all genetically modified products and advocates for the harnessing of machinery and processes used in the production of genetically modified food for the production of organic food which are toxin free. Recommendations can be made to approve of the consumptions of genetically modified food if and only if they are assessed to be 100% free from negative side effects.
Genetically modified foods to increase food production and to overcome adverse climatic conditions could be the gateway to solving problems of malnutrition. Finally, it is essential that there are collaborative efforts from all stakeholders in fighting nutrition issues.
Featured image | GMO: Jonathan Rolande | flickr
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Best of Africa.
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