The number of people under malnutrition is estimated to be about 800 million. This number does not give the whole picture as the number of people under “hidden hunger” is estimated to be two billion. Eighteen out of the twenty countries suffering from this problem are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The term hidden hunger means people suffering from chronic lack of micronutrients and it has usually no visible warning signs. Most commonly deficient nutrients are iron, iodine, zinc or vitamin A. They cause impaired development and even deaths to the poor, especially children and women in developing countries. The reason to these deficiencies is usually their low intake in the diet.
Micronutrient Forum is a series of congresses dealing with micronutrient deficiencies. The latest one was in Addis Abeba Ethiopia in June this year. There were about 1000 experts from all continents; scientists, nutrition experts, decision makers, private sector etc. discussing the problem. Many countries are taking actions against hidden hunger as it has been recognized that it contributes to poverty and limits productivity and economic growth. The most common means of intervening micronutrient deficiency is addition of these elements to the diet, drinking water or directly to the humans.
FoodAfrica work package one dealing with soil micronutrients attended the Forum and is looking ways of networking with experts in human nutrition to be able to develop new methods of combating hidden hunger. We wish to share information on areas with low soil micronutrient content and work together to develop strategies and agronomic means for improving status of these elements in humans.
More information: Professor Martti Esala