Wikiprogress Africa

This blog is written and maintained by the Wikiprogress Africa Network. This network, hosted by the OECD, aims to provide a platform for knowledge sharing on measuring progress and well-being in an African context.

Ce blog est administré et mis à jour par le réseau Wikiprogress Africa. Ce réseau, hébergé par l'OCDE, est une plateforme axée sur le partage de connaissances dans le domaine de la mesure du progrès et du bien-être des sociétés africaines.

mercredi 17 avril 2013

Hunger in the midst of plenty, obesity in the shadow of famine. The nutrition paradox in Africa.

For this year’s World Health Day (April 7th), the World Health Organisation has decided to highlight high blood pressure. The new WHO report, A Global Brief on Hypertension, show that one third of adults worldwide suffer from this non-communicable disease (NCD) while nearly one in ten adults worldwide suffers from diabetes. Behavioural factors (lack of exercise, unhealthy diet) and environmental ones (aging, income, urbanization) are at the root of this disease which has taken over Africa, where 25% of adult men and a third of the women suffer from it. The World Health Organization predicts that unhampered, it will rise to 41 percent and 30 percent respectively in the next 10 years, according to this report.In Somalia, high blood pressure affects 50 percent of the adults (Blood Pressure Looms Across as Somalia is facing a food paradox, Mareeg). In Senegal 1 out of 8 women aged over 20 is obese and suffer from related diseases such as diabetes and high-blood pressure(World Health Day raises Awareness of Deadliest Condition, Voice of America).

This harsh reality is a paradox since hunger and malnutrition remain important health concerns in Africa.  In Uganda, a third of women in urban Kampala and a quarter of the women in more rural central and south-western Uganda are overweight or obese while 50 percent of children in south-western Uganda are malnourished (Obesity: the impacts on public health and society, Barilla). In 2010 the number of overweight children under the age of five, is estimated to be over 42 million. Close to 35 million of these are living in developing countries. Malnutrition and high-blood pressure (resulting from obesity among others) result partly both from a diet lacking in nutrients(World Health Day:9 Things We Can All Do, Huffington Post). The same tools will help tackle these two diseases and as such a holistic approach might be the solution). Coordination between the organizations tackling these two diseases is therefore needed.

Besides, high-blood pressure and diabetes cannot be considered as “wealthy people diseases” since they are present among the poverty-stricken areas. According to Ama de Graft-Aikins, LSE African Initiative Fellow at LSE Health interviewed by the Guardian (Africa: raising the profile of obesity. heart disease and diabetes),«the burden [high-blood pressure and other NCDs] is polarised across social economic status and you do have wealthy communities having a high burden of chronic diseases. But poor communities have a high burden of both infectious and chronic diseases. Across Africa, Latin America and Asia... we are actually beginning to see that poor communities have a double burden. That creates huge problems in terms of health equity and poverty reduction – if you have a chronic disease it drives you and your family further down into poverty."

The high prevalence of high-blood pressure and other chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity in African countries has an important economic toll on the countries.  According to the WHO publication, A Global Brief on Hypertension, these diseases are overlooked by most African countries while it is draining dry their workforce. Besides, few are the countries that dispose of the infrastructure to contain and tackle them. As recommendations for policymakers, the WHO posits raising awareness of high-blood pressure and the importance of healthy diet/exercise, increasing the taxes on tobacco and alcohol as well as restrictions on their promotions, among other.

For  more info about this paradox, click here.

Consult Wikiprogress's Health Section for more information about this topic and related ones.

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