Safe food to ensure productive human resources stressed

February 27, 2010

Access to adequate, safe and nutritious food is essential to achieve economic and social development in the country, said an expert, reports UNB.
“Safe and balanced food is essential to ensure productive human resources – a precondition of economic growth and development of a nation,” said Dr. AFM Saiful Islam, the executive director of Bangladesh Applied Nutrition and Human Resource Development Board (BAN-HRDB).
But the efforts towards creating awareness among different stakeholders throughout the country about applied nutrition, food hygiene, sanitation, food safety and nutrition security are being hampered for lack of trained manpower of BAN-HRDB.
Talking to UNB, Dr Saiful Islam said that presently, they have 45 people working across the country. There is need for further appointment – of some 250-300 skilled people – to accelerate the activities of the Board.
He said there is a firm commitment from the government to patronize the BAN-HRDB to carry out training and motivational activities throughout the country on a wider scale.
The executive director of BAN-HRDB informed that the Board would have three more regional centers—in Rangpur, Mymensingh and Jessore—apart from its existing centers in Sylhet, Barisal, Sirajganj and Noakhali.
The Board is presently conducting training activities on food-based applied nutrition, food hygiene and sanitation, food safety and nutrition security in collaboration with the district and upazila level officials of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), and Fisheries and Livestock Department.
In the wake of massive food adulteration that causes cancer, lungs and kidney failures, Dr Saiful Islam said they have a plan to set up quality control cell for advocacy to the traders and businessmen on the adverse affects of food adulteration.
He said that malnourished, underweight and stunted children in constituted 47.8 percent, 42.4 percent and 12.7 percent respectively in 2005 in Bangladesh, the worst compared to other South Asian countries. “Almost 50 percent of country’s total population is underweight and stunted.”
Quoting some relevant statistics, he informed that in Bangladesh, the underweight children under five constitute 49 percent of the population, while nearly 47 percent people are stunted – the highest in the world. Some 40 percent infants are born with about 2.5 kg weight (standard 3 kg), infant mortality rate is 3.7 percent, around 80 percent of country’s total population experience energy problem, around 70 percent children and women suffer from iron deficiency while about 45 percent are the victims of iodine deficiency.
Apart from low income due to poverty, Dr Saiful identified lack of resources for food production, less availability of foods, lack of suitable post-harvest processing and technologies, as some of the barriers to ensuring adequate nutrition.
Quoting different surveys, he said that less income due to poverty is the main cause behind blindness, underweight child birth with inadequate physical and mental development, anemia and malnutrition related diseases.
The BAN-HRDB executive director cited lack of physical and financial facilities, lack of skilled and qualified manpower, and lack of research facilities as the major hindrances to performing their activities properly. “Apart from manpower, we also need technical and logistic support,” he said.
He also said that malnutrition, which hampers intellectual development, is the main cause for school dropouts.
Dr Saiful underscored promotion of functional foods like onion and garlic – rich in nutrition and disease protection power.
“Research works should be strengthened on functional food and medicinal plants,” he said adding that they have also plan for conducting nutrition-related analytical survey.
He said that the process is underway to promote nutrition education in the primary and secondary school level (class III-X) and diploma in agricultural course.
Malnutrition impairs physical capacity, affects adequate level of physical and intellectual growth, affects physiological functions, reduces resistance to diseases, increases national economic losses and creates inter-generational problems.

Courtesy of UNB via The News Today

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