evidence-based blog of Filippo Dibari

Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Nutrition Key to Developing Africa’s “Grey Matter Infrastructure”

In Over-nutrition, Under-nutrition on May 29, 2017 at 6:13 am

from IPSnews

AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina adressing delegates at the nutrition event while Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, World Food Prize Foundation, listens. Credit: Friday Phiri/IPS


AHMEDABAD, India, May 24 2017 (IPS) – Developing Africa’s ‘grey matter infrastructure’ through multi-sector investments in nutrition has been identified as a game changer for Africa’s sustainable development.

Experts here at the 2017 African Development Bank’s Annual Meetings say investing in physical infrastructure alone cannot help Africa to move forward without building brainpower.

“We can’t say Africa is rising when half of our children are stunted.” –Muhammad Ali Pate

“We can repair a bridge, we know how to do that, we can fix a port, we know how to do it, we can fix a rail, we know how to do that, but we don’t know how to fix brain cells once they are gone, that’s why we need to change our approach to dealing with nutrition matters in Africa,” said AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, pointing out that stunting alone costs Africa 25 billion dollars annually.

Malnutrition – the cause of half of child deaths worldwide – continues to rob generations of Africans of the chance to grow to their full physical and cognitive potential, hugely impacting not only health outcomes, but also economic development.

Malnutrition is unacceptably high on the continent, with 58 million or 36 percent of children under the age of five chronically undernourished (suffering from stunting)—and in some countries, as many as one out of every two children suffer from stunting. The effects of stunting are irreversible, impacting the ability of children’s bodies and brains to grow to their full potential.

On a panel discussion Developing Africa’s Grey Matter Infrastructure: Addressing Africa’s Nutrition Challenges” moderated by IFPRI’s Rajul Pandya-Lorch, experts highlighted the importance of urgently fighting the scourge of malnutrition.

Laura Landis of the World Food Programme (WFP) said the cost of inaction is dramatic. “We have to make an economic argument on why we need action,” she said. “The WFP is helping, in cooperation with the African Union and the AfDB, to collect the data that gets not just the Health Minister moving, but also Heads of State or Ministers of Finance.”

The idea is to get everyone involved and not leave nutrition to agriculture and/or health ministries alone. And panelists established that there is indeed a direct link between productivity and growth of the agriculture sector and improved nutrition.

Baffour Agyeman of the John Kuffuor Foundation puts it simply: “It has become evident that it is the quality of food and not the quantity thereof that is more important,” calling for awareness not to end at high level conferences but get to the grassroots.

Assisting African governments to build strong and robust economies is accordingly a key priority for the AfDB. But recognizing the potential that exists in the continent’s vast human capital, the bank included nutrition as a focus area under its five operational priorities – the High 5s.

And to mobilise support at the highest level, the African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) initiative was launched last year, bringing together Heads of State committed to ending malnutrition in their countries.

As a key partner of this initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation foresees improved accountability with such an initiative in place. “ALN is a way to make the fight against malnutrition a central development issue that Ministers of Finance and Heads of State take seriously and hold all sectors accountable for,” said Shawn Baker, Nutrition Director at the Foundation.

However, African Ministers of Finance want to see better coordination and for governments to play a leading role in such initiatives to achieve desired results. “Cooperation and coordination are key between government and development partners,” said Sierra Leone’s Finance and Economic Development Minister Momodu Kargbo. “Development partners disregard government systems when implementing programmes whereas they should align and carefully regard existing government institutions and ways of working.”

Notwithstanding the overarching theme of Africa rising, Muhammad Ali Pate, CEO of Big Win Philanthropy, says, “We can’t say Africa is rising when half of our children are stunted.” He pointed out the need to close the mismatch between the continent’s sustained GDP growth and improved livelihood of its people.

With the agreed global SDG agenda, Gerda Verburg, Scaling Up Nutrition Movement Coordinator sees nutrition as a core of achieving the goals. “Without better nutrition you will not end poverty, without better nutrition you will not end gender inequality, without better nutrition you will not improve health, find innovative approaches, or peace and stability, better nutrition is the core,” she says.

Therefore, developing Grey Matter Infrastructure is key to improving the quality of life for the people of Africa. But it won’t happen without leadership to encourage investments in agriculture and nutrition, and more importantly, resource mobilization for this purpose.

Associations of Suboptimal Growth with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in Children under Five Years: A Pooled Analysis of Ten Prospective Studies

In Under-nutrition on June 3, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Olofin I, McDonald CM, Ezzati M, Flaxman S, Black RE, et al. (2013) Associations of Suboptimal Growth with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality in Children under Five Years: A Pooled Analysis of Ten Prospective Studies. PLoS ONE 8(5): e64636.

(download)

Abstract

 

Background

Child undernutrition affects millions of children globally. We investigated associations between suboptimal growth and mortality by pooling large studies.

Methods

Pooled analysis involving children 1 week to 59 months old in 10 prospective studies in Africa, Asia and South America. Utilizing most recent measurements, we calculated weight-for-age, height/length-for-age and weight-for-height/length Z scores, applying 2006 WHO Standards and the 1977 NCHS/WHO Reference. We estimated all-cause and cause-specific mortality hazard ratios (HR) using proportional hazards models comparing children with mild (−2≤Z<−1), moderate (−3≤Z<−2), or severe (Z<−3) anthropometric deficits with the reference category (Z≥−1).

Results

53 809 children were eligible for this re-analysis and contributed a total of 55 359 person-years, during which 1315 deaths were observed. All degrees of underweight, stunting and wasting were associated with significantly higher mortality. The strength of association increased monotonically as Z scores decreased. Pooled mortality HR was 1.52 (95% Confidence Interval 1.28, 1.81) for mild underweight; 2.63 (2.20, 3.14) for moderate underweight; and 9.40 (8.02, 11.03) for severe underweight. Wasting was a stronger determinant of mortality than stunting or underweight. Mortality HR for severe wasting was 11.63 (9.84, 13.76) compared with 5.48 (4.62, 6.50) for severe stunting. Using older NCHS standards resulted in larger HRs compared with WHO standards. In cause-specific analyses, all degrees of anthropometric deficits increased the hazards of dying from respiratory tract infections and diarrheal diseases. The study had insufficient power to precisely estimate effects of undernutrition on malaria mortality.

Conclusions

All degrees of anthropometric deficits are associated with increased risk of under-five mortality using the 2006 WHO Standards. Even mild deficits substantially increase mortality, especially from infectious diseases.

The nutritional value of toilets: How much international variation in child height can sanitation explain?

In Under-nutrition on May 4, 2014 at 7:39 am

by Dean Spears (World Bank). From the Rice Web Site – June 2013

(download the entire doc)

Abstract

Physical height is an important economic variable reflecting health and human capital. Puzzlingly, however, differences in average height across developing countries are not well explained by differences in wealth. In particular, children in India are shorter, on average, than children in Africa who are poorer, on average, a paradox called \the Asian enigma” which has received much attention from economists.

 Could toilets help children grow tall, while disease externalities from poor sanitation keep children from reaching their height potentials? This paper provides the first identification of a quantitatively important gradient between child height and sanitation, which can statistically explain a large fraction of international height differences.

I apply three complementary empirical strategies to identify the association between sanitation and child height: country-level regressions across 140 country-years in 65 developing countries; within-country analysis of differences over time within Indian districts; and econometric decomposition of the India-Africa height difference in child level data.

 The effect of sanitation on human capital is quantitatively robustly estimated across these strategies, and does not merely reflect wealth or other dimensions of development. Open defecation, which is exceptionally widespread in India, can account for much or all of the excess stunting in India.

Exploring the paradox: double burden of malnutrition in rural South Africa

In Over-nutrition, Under-nutrition on April 18, 2014 at 7:11 am

by Kimani-Murage EW.

Glob Health Action. 2013 Jan 24;6:19249

(download)

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

This article is a review of the PhD thesis by Elizabeth Kimani-Murage that explores the double burden of malnutrition in rural South Africa. This is in the context of a worryingly rapid increase in obesity and obesity-related diseases in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) including South Africa, and in the wake of on-going nutrition transition and lifestyle changes in these countries.

OBJECTIVE:

To understand the profiles of malnutrition among children and adolescents in a poor, high HIV prevalent, transitional society in a middle-income country.

METHODS:

A cross-sectional growth survey was conducted in 2007 targeting 4,000 children and adolescents aged 1-20 years. In addition, HIV testing was carried out on children aged 1-5 years and Tanner pubertal assessment among adolescents aged 9-20 years.

RESULTS:

The study shows stunting at an early age and adolescent obesity, particularly among girls, that co-exists in the same socio-geographic population. The study also shows that HIV is an independent modifiable risk factor for poor nutritional outcomes in children and makes a significant contribution to nutritional outcomes at the individual level. Significant predictors of undernutrition at an early age, documented at individual, household, and community levels, include child’s HIV status, age and birth weight, maternal age, age of household head, and area of residence. Significant predictors of overweight/obesity and risk for metabolic disease during adolescence, documented at individual and household levels include child’s age, sex, and pubertal development, household-level food security, socio-economic status, and household head’s highest education level.

CONCLUSIONS:

The combination of early stunting and adolescent obesity raises critical concerns in the wake of the rising public health importance of metabolic diseases in LMICs. This is because, both paediatric obesity and adult short stature are risk factors for metabolic syndrome and metabolic diseases in adulthood. Clearly, policies and interventions to address malnutrition in this and other transitional societies need to be double-pronged and gender-sensitive.

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Six-Month Mortality among HIV-Infected Adults Presenting for Antiretroviral Therapy with Unexplained Weight Loss, Chronic Fever or Chronic Diarrhea in Malawi

In Under-nutrition on November 25, 2012 at 8:14 am

by Monique van Lettow, Ann Åkesson, Alexandra L. C. Martiniuk, Andrew Ramsay, Adrienne K. Chan, Suzanne T. Anderson, Anthony D. Harries, Elizabeth Corbett, Robert S. Heyderman, Rony Zachariah, Richard A. Bedell

from PLOs November 19, 2012

(downlowad the paper)

 

Abstract

Background

In sub-Saharan Africa, early mortality is high following initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART). We investigated 6-month outcomes and factors associated with mortality in HIV-infected adults being assessed for ART initiation and presenting with weight loss, chronic fever or diarrhea, and with negative TB sputum microscopy.

Methods

A prospective cohort study was conducted in Malawi, investigating mortality in relation to ART uptake, microbiological findings and treatment of opportunistic infection (OIs), 6 months after meeting ART eligibility criteria.

Results

Of 469 consecutive adults eligible for ART, 74(16%) died within 6 months of enrolment, at a median of 41 days (IQR 20–81). 370(79%) started ART at a median time of 18 days (IQR 7–40) after enrolment. Six-month case-fatality rates were higher in patients with OIs; 25/121(21%) in confirmed/clinical TB and 10/50(20%) with blood stream infection (BSI) compared to 41/308(13%) in patients with no infection identified. Median TB treatment start was 27 days (IQR 17–65) after enrolment and mortality [8 deaths (44%)] was significantly higher among 18 culture-positive patients with delayed TB diagnosis compared to patients diagnosed clinically and treated promptly with subsequent culture confirmation [6/34 (18%);p = 0.04]. Adjusted multivariable analysis, excluding deaths in the first 21 days, showed weight loss >10%, low CD4 count, severe anemia, laboratory-only TB diagnosis, and not initiating ART to be independently associated with increased risk of death.

Conclusions

Mortality remains high among chronically ill patients eligible for ART. Prompt initiation of ART is vital: more than half of deaths were among patients who never started ART. Diagnostic and treatment delay for TB was strongly associated with risk of death. More than half of deaths occurred without identification of a specific infection. ART programmes need access to rapid point-of-care-diagnostic tools for OIs. The role of early empiric OI treatment in this population requires further evaluation in clinical trials.

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Association of BMI Category Change with TB Treatment Mortality in HIV-Positive Smear-Negative and Extrapulmonary TB Patients in Myanmar and Zimbabwe

In Under-nutrition on May 8, 2012 at 11:18 am

Benova L, Fielding K, Greig J, Nyang’wa BT, Casas EC, da Fonseca MS, du Cros P.

PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35948. Epub 2012 Apr 2

“OBJECTIVE: The HIV epidemic has increased the proportion of patients with smear-negative and extrapulmonary tuberculosis (TB) diagnoses, with related higher rates of poor TB treatment outcomes. Unlike in smear-positive pulmonary TB, no interim markers of TB treatment progress are systematically used to identify individuals most at risk of mortality. The objective of this study was to assess the association of body mass index (BMI) change at 1 month (±15 days) from TB treatment start with mortality among HIV-positive individuals with smear-negative and extrapulmonary TB.

 
“METHODS AND FINDINGS: A retrospective cohort study of adult HIV-positive new TB patients in Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) treatment programmes in Myanmar and Zimbabwe was conducted using Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate the association between BMI category change and mortality. A cohort of 1090 TB patients (605 smear-negative and 485 extrapulmonary) was followed during TB treatment with mortality rate of 28.9 per 100 person-years. In multivariable analyses, remaining severely underweight or moving to a lower BMI category increased mortality (adjusted hazard ratio 4.05, 95% confidence interval 2.77-5.91, p<0.001) compared with remaining in the same or moving to a higher BMI category.

 
“CONCLUSIONS: We found a strong association between BMI category change during the first month of TB treatment and mortality. BMI category change could be used to identify individuals most at risk of mortality during TB treatment among smear-negative and extrapulmonary patients.”

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