Inderscience Publishers

Human and economic development in developing countries: a public health dimension employing the food multimix concept

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Over the last three decades, efforts to boost economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have met with mixed outcomes. The gap between rich and poor in developing countries has widened following the removal of government subsidies on health, agriculture and education partly as a consequence of structural adjustment programmes. More alarming, nine out of the top ten poorest countries are located in SSA with an average GNI per capita of US$251 (95% CI 192.9–309.6), an average life expectancy of 43.9 (95% CI 41.8–51.9) years, the latter of which is projected to fall further if present trends continue especially combined with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Poor education, food insecurity, limited access to affordable and good quality healthcare will lead to a weakened workforce and ultimately, impact negatively on productivity and economic development. We have previously reported the use of traditional Food Multimixes (FMM) to meet nutritional needs for different population groups. The focus of this paper was to demonstrate the processes involved in the development of a suitable FMM and how such products can provide sufficient nutrients in the daily composite diets of poor, food-insecure communities in SSA. We suggest that an integrated approach including community-based and community supported food-based interventions, education with an in-built nutrition and health component as well as information, learning and leadership strategies will contribute to human and economic development efforts in SSA.

Keywords: optimisation, dietary diversification, reference nutrient intake, food multimix concept, FMM concept, nutrient enrichment, economic development, gross national index, GNI, sub-Saharan Africa, SSA, developing countries, public health, nutrition, poverty, education, intervention, learning, leadership, human development

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