A diverse, nutrient-rich diet is the most sustainable way to prevent the negative effects of micronutrient deficiencies, such as anemia and other conditions, which can permanently impede children’s physical and cognitive growth, increase maternal and infant morbidity, and in extreme cases, lead to mortality. To address these issues, Uganda’s Ministry of Health began working with USAID in 2016 on a project to make fortified foods and supplements available to communities that cannot receive these necessary nutrients from their local food sources.
Studies have not only shown that the majority of malnourished people are women and girls, but analyses of the distribution of nutrition-related tasks have also revealed the heavy workload of women and low involvement of men. This is why it is important to take gender relations into consideration in the fight against malnutrition.
If we look at why we need food—that is, for our bodies to receive the nutrients they need to perform at their best—then food security is really about nutrition security. When we look at how climate change affects whether “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food” we must keep nutrition at the forefront of the conversation.
Public health officials and researchers in Uganda were pleasantly surprised to find that between 2001 and 2011, anemia rates had decreased markedly for women and children. However, sustaining this momentum requires an understanding of the reasons why anemia rates are decreasing.