International food politics: Pakistan
If the most important risk factor for chronic malnutrition is poverty, natural disaster is surely the most important for acute malnutrition. Nutrition problems created by natural disasters usually can be alleviated by effective government action and, when necessary, international aid.
But the flood disaster in Pakistan is so huge, and affects so many people over such a large area, that it has become an object lesson in the consequences of international disinterest. What aid has been forthcoming has been slow to arrive and not much of it comes from the United States.
One result is illustrated in today’s Guardian (UK):
The photo was forwarded to me by Patty Rundall, policy coordinator of Baby Milk Action.
It was sent to her by UNICEF, which has produced guidelines on infant feeding and a call for appropriate support for feeding young children in Pakistan. Bottle feeding in unsterile environments is not healthy for infants.
The Washington Post points out that helping to alleviate this disaster is the right thing to do. But it is also very much in America’s strategic interest.
If strategic interest is what it takes to get our government and others to move on this, let’s use it.