War against malnutrition

Today is World Health Day. It is a good time to reflect on the health of our people. And to remind ourselves that we still need to wage a war against malnutrition. So I’m reproducing what we discussed last November on this serious problem:

Six weeks ago, the Annual Health Bulletin announced that 37% of our children are stunting, that 4.6% of them are wasting, and that 11.1% are underweight.

This week, we learnt that the Right to Food Assessment Study concluded that 26.6% of our households are undernourished. That would also roughly mean that about a quarter of our population is undernourished. The study, it seems, was conducted sometime last year by FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture.

And recently, the Basic Health Worker in Chali has reported that “the number of malnourished children under the age of five in Chali geog under Mongar has almost doubled in just one year.”

We now know, from independent sources, that our people are undernourished. And that our children are stunting, wasting and underweight. So what are we doing about it? Not much. In fact, we seem to be doing nothing to specifically address this crisis.

What should we do? “Wage a WAR AGAINST MALNUTRITION,” cries Zekom. This is what Zekom implores:

Reducing poverty, especially rural poverty, is an obvious answer.

But, children cannot wait for Drukyul to get richer. Our nation’s future is being made NOW.

Wage a WAR AGAINST MALNUTRITION. Take the nourishing food to where the children and infants are — in schools and beyond schools — targeting the nutrition and trace elements missing in their diet.

Make sure to measure outcomes, in physical growth rates of beneficiary children, very frequently. You’ll be amazed how fast it works, if it’s done right. There’s nothing better than rapid positive results to fuel the FIRE in change agents’ belly, and inspire others to join hands.

Countries such as UK, Germany and Japan benefited from such programmes after the World War II. Concentrated orange juice and cod liver oil were delivered to every household with children under certain age in UK. Milk and various sources of vitamins were delivered to every infant and school lunches in Japan. Who financed these? USA. It was the top priority in their postwar reconstruction assistance efforts.

Recruit UNiCEF, UN World Food Programme, and other UN agencies as partners, and tap their global know-how on how to do it and do it right.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

 

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  1. This years theme is Urbanization and Healthy living. Urbanization is associated with many health challenges related to water,environment, violence and injury, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes mellitus,hypertension,cancers etc and their risk factors like tobacco use, unhealthy diet , physical inactivity and harmful use of substance and alcohol as well as risks associated with diseases outbreaks.

  2. 400 million ngultrums!!
    400 million ngultrums!!
    400 million ngultrums!!

    Yes, it’s “SAYA SHIB JA THAM PA”.

    It absolutely doesn’t make any sense to me to see that our government is paying 400 million ngultrums to the McKinsey group for nothing and praying and making butter lamp offerings for the sake of malnourishment and poverty in the country. It doesn’t make any sense to me to see they talk about GNH all the time, teach our people to spend sensibly, use our resources adequately and sustainably, and live reasonably but they don’t hesitate to spend so much for nothing. It is wicked and I smell something fishy.
    Amidst all these pathetic situations of our people in our country, this government is preaching GNH in the front but did not hesitate to pay FOUR HUNDRED MILLION NGULTRUMS to a foreign company just to tell us what we already know better. I don’t want to, honestly, criticize this government led by Jigme Yozer Thinley but he leaves me with no choice. Anyone here, please enlighten me, what is the rationale to pay such exorbitant price for something we can do it ourselves? What is the wisdom?
    His Majesty King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck had managed to steer this nation through the difficult ages of economic upheaval and political instability, especially in the South Asian region, with some locally educated courtiers who never crossed our borders and managed it so very well. What is the urgent need to hire a consultancy firm that charges so expensively and, worse, maintains super secrecy and carefully crafted plans to avoid public scrutiny? And why at this time? Why hire a foreign consultancy firm when we can employ our own Bhutanese people to do the same job, better perhaps because of our nativity and vernacular understanding of our own problems and, at a much cheaper costs? Unlike a few decades ago, nowadays we have an abundance of qualified and experienced people. Why can’t we form a “think-tank group” in the country, a national project, led by the senior people and leaders in our country, guided by our King who is more open, more approachable and who listens to our people more than these political brats intoxicated by their recent grasp on power and, employ our graduates who are jobless? Nobody knows why we need a consultancy firm? We are a nation and a nation does not run like a private company. Nobody knows how this McKinsey got the government contract. Nobody knows why it got it. And nobody knows why our government is willing to waste such a huge chunk from our poor treasury which is so much so dependent on foreign aids. I think it is not just about the exorbitant price tag for a junk but also the breach of existing contract rules and regulations in our country which says that every contract should be held in open market. This is very frustrating. At least they can tell us why we need such a consultancy firm. At least they can tell us what is that “something” that this consultancy firm can do which we can not do on our own? They didn’t. They don’t. A government that is afraid to entrust its people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values and a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. And this is very alarming.
    I think with this much amount of money, we can build at least 20 BHUs and stuff it with enough medicines and adequate medical equipments; we can feed our impoverished children in the rural primary schools with compulsory nutritious milk drinking every morning for over a decade; we can improve the quality of meals and nutrition in our boarding schools for many, many years. We used to eat bulgur and potatoes in our schools. Three decades down the line I don’t see any nutritional improvements for our students in our boarding schools. Even today our boarders eat meals no better than some pig food. Zekom said, “ let’s wage a war against malnutrition”. Good idea but how? This is the big question.

    “True patriotism is when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right”.

    True patriotism: “Our country — when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.”

  3. No No we should concentrate on increasing the pay and perks to the hon’ble MPs so that they could buy many more Excavators and heavy machines to work in mega hydro projects.
    I think we should increase the rural tax so called the living tax, breathing tax, moving around tax etc. this infact will make the government more rich and pay themself higher.

  4. As long as MPs gets paid who cares.

  5. Pema wangchuk says:

    It is more than 400 million Ngultrums, Tangba. Besides the out-of-pocket expenses (air tickets, transport, and lliving expenses at Tashi Taj) is not included in the USD9.2 million. I am thinking, is somebody getting some kickbacks from this package? Otherwise, why no competitive bids when procurement manual requires any government procurement to do so?

  6. Pema Wangchuk: You are right. I just wanted to avoid the smaller cumbersome expenses that “IS” there in such deals, but”kickbacks” I don’t think so. It should be “feedbacks”, not “kickbacks”. I am definitely sure that someone in the government is enjoying lavish but secret “feedbacks” from such a deal! Time will tell. Yes it will but then it will be too late to do anything. And then, irritatingly, these people will talk about GNH. That is how things work in our country.

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