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News and notes

Summary of the UN University World Hunger Programme (WHP)
Why an International year of the child?
Agricultural curricula for undergraduate students
UNU collaboration with the UNEP/UNESCO/ICRO panel on microbiology
Training aids for Xerophthalmia
Books received


Summary of the UN University World Hunger Programme (WHP)

1. Three associated institutions will be in their third year of operation beginning 1979: the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP), Guatemala; the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), India; and the Nutrition Center of the Philippines (NCP), the Philippines

2. Three associated institutions will be in their second year of operation beginning 1979: the Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (INTA), Chile; the Tropical Products Institute, U.K.; and the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Investigation (IVIC), Venezuela.

3. Two associated institutions will be in the first full year of operation beginning 1979: the International Food and Nutrition Policy Program (IFNP), M.l.T.-Harvard, U.S,A.; and the Centre for Research on Nutrition (CRN) of the Laval University, Canada.

4. The National Food Research Institute, Japan, will participate, from 1 January 1979, in UNU activities by providing advanced training facilities for UNU Fellows.

5. Agreement for the establishment of association is expected to be ratified with the following institutions early in 1979: the Department of Nutrition and Food Science (DNFS) of the University of Ghana, Ghana; the Instituut voor Landbouwkundig Onderzoek van Biochemische Producten (ILOB)-Institute for Animal Nutrition Research, the Netherlands; and the Foundation for Superior Education (FES), Cali, Colombia.

6. Facilities for training approximately seventy UNU Fellows are available at present.

7. Twenty-nine UNU Fellows have completed, and 32 are under, training as of the end of 1978. Thirteen Fellows are women. The WHP had offered 14 Management Fellowships during 1977 and 1978. The UNU Fellows came from 31 countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia and one each from North America and Europe.

8. Five research projects are presently being supported.

9. During the year 1978, the third and the fourth regional interface workshops on "Agriculture, Food Science, and Nutrition" were held, in Hungary and in Guatemala. A technical Workshop on "Impact of Food-Price Policies on Nutrition" was held in Mexico. An international workshop on "The State of the Art of Bioconversion of Organic Residues for Rural Communities" was held in Guatemala, and two symposia on "Nutritional Impact of Food Conservation, and Potential of Post-harvest Conservation for Alleviating World Hunger" were held at the time of the IUNS and lUFoST congresses in Brazil and Japan.

10. The WHP and the Programme on the Use and Management of Natural Resources (NRP) have developed jointly a programme of research and training on microbial processing of organic residues at village level for animal feeding. The conference held late in November 1978 has helped in the development of research projects in this area.

11. The WHP and the Human and Social Development Programme (HSDP) will develop jointly a programme on "Goals, Processes, and Indicators for Food and Nutrition Policy and Planning," and the workshop on this topic, to be held in March 1979, will lead to development of guidelines and identification of research projects.


Why an International year of the child?

When asked, "Why an International Year of the Child?", Henry R. Labouisse, Executive Director of UNICEF, often replies, "For 2 billion reasons, most of them under 10 years of age." That is probably as good an off-the-cuff answer as can be given, but Mr. Labouisse's remark needs a little elaboration if it is to be fully understood.

In its resolution of 21 December 1976 proclaiming 1979 to be the International Year of the Child (and designating the United Nations Children's Fund as the lead agency for the Year), the United Nations General Assembly decided that IYC should have two main objectives:

1. to provide a framework for advocacy on behalf of children and thus promote a greater awareness of the special needs of children; and

2. to make people realize that programmes for children ought to be seen as an integral part of economic and social development planning.

A close reading of the resolution indicates that, although all countries, including the industrialized countries, are encouraged to examine and improve the situation of their own children, the emphasis is clearly on helping children in the developing countries. The resolution calls specific attention, for example, in its preambular portion to the fact that basic services for children are a vital component of social and economic development; and, in its operative part, it expresses the hope that the Year will result in a substantially increased flow of resources through UNICEF and other channels of external aid to services of benefit to children in the developing countries .

It is noteworthy, too, that the International Year of the Child was timed to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, a major 10-point statement adopted by the General Assembly in 1959.

The International Year of the Child thus takes its place in the series, already rather long, of international Years proclaimed from time to time by the General Assembly, each designed to focus world attention on one or another of the major concerns of mankind-human rights, population, the environment, the status of women. In addition, 1981 has been proclaimed the International Year for Disabled Persons, and consideration is being given to proposals for a World Communications Year, an International Youth Year, an International Year on Aging, an International Organization Year, and an International Year for Science and Technology (the latter proposed by UNESCO).

In one important respect the International Year of the Child differs from the various Years that have preceded it: there will be no international conference during the Year. Instead, the resolution calls primarily for action at the national and local levels.

In response to the resolution and to a specific request sent by Mr. Labouisse to all governments, national commissions for IYC have, at the latest count, been established in more than 100 countries. In many cases these commissions comply fully with Mr. Labouisse's suggestion that they be "broadly based and action-oriented." They carry the main burden for making the Year a success throughout the world.

The emphasis will, of course, be different according to whether the country belongs to the developed or developing world.

In the developing countries, the main object will be to review and raise development targets in all areas of direct concern to children. Children have often been called a country's most precious resource, and the Year will have served a good purpose if that concept can be used to motivate a lasting improvement in services for children-and by the same token, for their families and local communities-across the whole spectrum of social development.

An Asian and Pacific regional workshop in IYC, held in Manila in November 1978, adopted a resolution in which it stated that the Year should be an occasion, not for celebration only, but for active advocacy and long-term action on behalf of children. That notion of deeds as well as words is very widely shared.

In the advanced industrialized countries, the Year will have a double purpose-to focus attention on the situation of children at home on the one hand and, on the other, to highlight the plight of 350 million children around the world who are denied access to basic services-education, an adequate diet, health care, safe water, immunization.

Even in the most affluent countries, where children enjoy so many privileges, there may be dark corners that have to be looked into. Consequently the Year is expected to result in an intensified drive to combat such evils as juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, child prostitution, scholastic stress, vagrancy, cruelty to children, and child suicides. Services for the mentally and physically handicapped may also be in need of attention.

But, beyond that, a clearly stated purpose of the Year is to increase the flow of resources to the developing countries. That purpose injects a strong fund-raising factor into the Year, since additional resources will have to be mobilized in the developed countries and channelled into improved services for children in the developing countries.

The nature and scope of that aspect of the Year will, of course, vary from country to country, and will involve both the public and the private sectors, but in each case the success of the Year will be gauged to a large extent by the results obtained.

In the longer term, the Year will, it is hoped, lead to a better understanding in the industrialized countries of the relevance of social to economic development. The reference to basic services in the General Assembly resolution is suggestive in this regard because it links the International Year of the Child with the development process and reminds the donor countries that, ultimately, economic progress rests on social advance, that is, on the development of each country's fundamental resource-its people, and principally its children.


Agricultural curricula for undergraduate students

There are two most important topics currently of interest to the Faculties of Agriculture in universities throughout Africa. The first is the improvement of teaching. The second is the drawing-up of relevant curricula which will enable these Faculties to turn out agricultural graduates who have been well prepared to bring about agricultural change in their respective countries.

From its inception, the Association of Faculties of Agriculture in Africa (AFAA) has been attempting to urge the individual Faculties to re-examine their role as trainers of manpower who can transform agriculture and bring about development in the rural areas. Various governments, universities, international organizations and private foundations such as FAO, UNESCO, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Inter-University Council for Higher Education Overseas, the East African Community and others, have also been interested in the development of agricultural curricula which would enable Faculties of Agriculture to produce the kind of manpower which is more immediately useful to the needs of developing countries. A particular aim has been to find more effective ways to integrate theory with practice, and so to produce graduates who have acquired not only the necessary skills but the proper attitudes to enable them to bring about rapid changes in agriculture. The subject is relevant to countries not only in eastern Africa but in the whole of Africa and, indeed, elsewhere in the developing world where faculties of agriculture have regularly and increasingly been urged by circumstances to reappraise their curricula. A workshop on this subject was held in Tanzania, in September 1976, to provide a forum for the development of ideas and opinions concerning the magnitude of the problems at present and the possible ways that there may be of solving them. The proceedings of the Workshop on Agricultural Curricula for Undergraduate Students, held at the Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Science, University of Dar-es-Salaam, Morogoro, Tanzania, 13 - 19 September 1976, have been edited by C.L. Keswani, P.A. Huxley, M.L. Kyomo, J. Moris, and are published by the University of Dar-es-Salaam and the Ford Foundation (1976), 378 pages.


UNU collaboration with the UNEP/UNESCO/ICRO panel on microbiology

The World Hunger Programme and the Natural Resources Programme of the United Nations University have launched a joint research and training project on "Bioconversion of Organic Residues for Rural Communities". The UNEP/ UNESCO/ICRO Panel on Microbiology will collaborate with the UNU in this project and assist in the dissemination in this area, particularly that concerning low-cost microbial technologies of significance to the management of the environment and available natural resources. The Panel will also recommend institutions and individuals who could contribute technical information on processes, and test procedures helpful in research and training activities relevant to the management of organic residues in rural communities.

The several projects which it is proposed to develop within the framework of this UNU joint activity could also benefit from this. The World Data Centre on Microorganisms, at the Microbiological Resources Centre, Department of Microbiology, University of Queensland, has computed and stored a vast amount of information on the nutritional, physiological, technological, and other aspects of the subject. With the introduction of the concept of Microorganisms Resources Centres (MlRCEN), the World Data Centre became the first in a network of centres now located in Sweden, Thailand, Egypt, Kenya, and Brazil. The Centre in Thailand is the hub of activities in Southeast Asia and all members of the ASEAN group provide information to the

Thai MIRCEN for onward relay to the World Data Centre.

The World Data Centre on Microorganisms at the MIRCEN, Australia is able to provide:

1. information on the location of any particular species of microorganisms kept in major culture collections in the world;
2. a geographical index of collections;
3. an index of collections for each of the major groups of microorganisms; and
4. an index of main interests of the major culture collections in the world.

Facilities also exist for production of sub-directories and/or sub-catalogues. The Centre has assumed responsibility for the collection, storage and retrieval of data on Rhizobium spp. following the termination of the International Biological Programme.


Training aids for Xerophthalmia

Eight prototype training aids for use in the prevention and treatment of xerophthalmia and keratomalacia are available from Helen Keller International, New York. The materials are designed for health and nutrition personnel-at all levels in developing countries as one facet of HKl's worldwide effort to prevent and cure nutritional blindness.

The aids, prepared in co-operation with the Nutrition Foundation and with support from the Agency for International Development, are being used by ministries of health, hospitals, universities and medical schools, and public health centres to teach the best methods of eradicating child blindness brought on by malnutrition and lack of vitamin A.

The information ranges from the latest scientific findings on the clinical diagnosis and treatment of nutritional blindness to simpler guides on the etiology, prevention, and treatment of the disease, and flip charts for use in teaching mothers the hazards of malnutrition and lack of vitamin A in a child's diet. Filmstrips, slide sets, plates, and illustrations are included.

The flyer Conquering Xerophthalmia, with descriptions of the aids and an order blank, may be obtained without charge by writing to Blindness Prevention Department,

Helen Keller International, 22 West 17th Street, New York, New York 10011.


Books received

The Children of Santa Maria Cauque: A Prospective Field Study of Health and Growth (by Leonardo J. Mata; Cambridge: M.I.T. Press; June 1978; 395 pp; $19.95) examines health and growth in a rural Guatemalan village during the 1960s. A multidisciplinary approach that focuses primarily on malnutrition and infectious disease, the book is based on nine years of incidence observation in conjunction with the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP). During this period, researchers studied a small group of infants from gestation, while also observing nearly every person in the village in order to obtain a good idea of the community health situation, particularly in relation to the values and attitudes of the villagers. Prompt examination of collected biomaterials was made possible by a field station, resident staff, and nearby microbiological and statistical laboratories. All of the medical observations are made within a social and cultural framework which the author describes simply and with compassion. Nevin S. Scrimshaw, Institute Professor at M.I.T and an authority on the effects of nutrition on the development of children, comments that the book is "unlike any other published field study in its almost daily observations of microbiological and general status in the direct response to the cultural and environmental events to which each child is exposed from fetal life to school age. It will be read with great fascination by all persons interested in child health and development under conditions of underprivilege. "

Development, Reform, and Malnutrition in Chile (by Peter Hakim and Giorgio Solimano; Cambridge: M.l.T. Press; July 1978; 88 pp; $10.00) offers some surprising discoveries about the relationship between economic growth and nutrition conditions in a changing Third World country. The book spans 40 years of changing political, social, and economic conditions and takes a particularly hard look at Chile's milk-distribution program. Challenging the standard view that sustained economic growth, coupled with social legislation, inevitably leads to improved standards of nutrition the conclusions of Hakim, who is a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, and Solimano, who is a former Director of the Nutrition Department of the Ministry of Health in Chile, and currently Associate Professor of Public Health at Columbia University, will be of great interest to health-care legislators and policy-makers.

Fish Protein Concentrate: Panacea for Protein Malnutrition? (by E.R. Pariser et. al.; Cambridge: M.I.T. Press; June 1978; 296 pp; $17.50). During the 1960's, fish protein concentrate (FPC), a white powder produced from whole fish, was widely publicized as the most promising of a number of "technological fixes" for ridding mankind of malnutrition. In this book, the authors discuss why the programme ultimately failed, providing evidence that malnutrition extends well beyond the so-called protein gap, and showing that it is not possible to alleviate hunger or nutritional disease by treating them as single-factor deficiencies.

"A smartly written, marvelously revealing inquiry into how the vast US government operates at the battalion level, which, as all modern presidents learn sooner or later, is the echelon that often achieves or thwarts their grand designs.

"The work of four specialists now or previously associated with nutritional studies at M.l.T. - E R Pariser, Mitchel B. Wallerstein, Christopher J. Corkery, and Norman L. Brown

- Fish Protein Concentrate is a political rather than a technical inquest into a small federal program that promised technological salvation for the world's undernourished masses, and then stumbled into extinction."

- Daniel S. Greenberg, Washington Post

Nutrition and National Policy (edited by Beverly Winikoff; Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, September 1978; $22.50) presents case studies of the attempts of 11 governments to tackle nationwide problems of malnutrition. Ten of the nations are usually described as "developing"-Chile, Colombia, Ghana, Nigeria, Indonesia, Jamaica, Panama, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Zambia. The eleventh-the United States-is wealthy but it has its own nutrition problems, some of which are similar to those of developing nations and others that are more symptomatic of affluent societies. The book examines the relations between nutrition and culture, health policy, political process, agriculture policy, and economics. It questions the old solutions to malnutrition in order to discover why these have proved ineffective, and points to key issues and stumbling blocks in governmental attempts to deal with nutrition problems. Based on the conference "Nutrition and Government", sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation and organized by Winikoff while she was the Foundation's Assistant Director for Health Sciences, the book will interest readers concerned with the intricate and complex relationship between nutrition, health care, and government policies in nations at all stages of development.

A Growth Chart for International Use in Maternal and Child Health Care-Guidelines for Primary Health-Care Personnel, 36 pages; WHO, Geneva, 1978. Price: SWFr. 10/ - . This is a guide for the use of growth charts and includes a model chart which can be easily adapted to local needs. It describes how the model chart was developed and offers simplified instructions for use by primary-health workers.

Report of a Regional Workshop on Systems for Monitoring and Predicting Community Nutritional Status, Manila, Philippines, 29 March-5 April 1978. WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, Manila.

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