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Scientific Meetings
Forthcoming Meeting
''Charter for Scientific Researchers'' Issued by the Science Council of Japan

Scientific Meetings

A working group on the Nutritional Status of the Rural Population of the Sahel met in Paris on 28 and April 1980, under the sponsorship of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the International Union of Food Science and Technology (lUFoST), the International Union of Nutrition Sciences (IUNS), and the United Nations University. The recommendations made by this group are summarized below.

(It is anticipated that the full report of the working group will have been published before the apperarance of this issue of the Food and Nutrition Bulletin. It will be available from the International Development Research Centre, 60 Queen St., PO Box 8500, Ottawa, Canada K1G 3H9.)

A. General recommendations

Analysis of the results of the various studies on nutrition carried out in the Sahel indicate that the villages experience a very severe food shortage during the rainy season. This shortage of foodstuffs involves serious consequences for the health and nutrition of the rural populations, especially those groups with heightened needs - children and pregnant and nursing women.

1. To counteract these food shortages, it is recommended that urgent steps be taken to increase the production of cereals (millet and sorghum) and leguminous plants, while limiting the development of crops destined for export.

2. It is recommended that the main thrust be on improving techniques of preserving and processing cereals and legumes. Rather than import sophisticated techniques and equipment, whom distribution in rural areas frequently comes to nothing, encouragement will be given to the development of simple techniques that can be easily applied by the villagers. Thus it is advisable to broadly disseminate information on the traditional techniques of preserving, once they have been proven, and to encourage the use of procedures that can be applied directly with local means (adapted technology). With the aim of lightening the workload of the women and reducing the time spent grinding grain, encouragement should be given to the distribution of mills in the villages.

Other technological changes of this nature may be considered; they have been successfully carried out in many countries. The guarantee of success lies in close co-operation with the future users during the various phases of devising, developing, and implementing the new techniques.

3. The weaning period is a critical time for the growth and development of children in the Sahel. Promoting the consumption of foods used in weaning made from local products is, therefore, recommended. In order to reach the greatest number of children, it seems desirable to promote both current solutions: (a) encouraging through education the development of a food that the mothers could prepare themselves using products normally available around them; and (b) distributing ready-to-eat prepared foods. These products must be reconstituted by adding water, which is often contaminated, causing a risk of infection in children. For this reason, it is recommended that foods used in weaning be made available in such a form that they require prolonged cooking before use.

4. The problems of malnutrition in children may be solved by improving the quality of care given by the mother. Because of the heavy domestic workload that falls to the mother of the family in the Sahel, it is often impossible for her to devote the required time to the care of her child. It is therefore necessary to implement ways of reducing the women's work, an essential prerequisite to improving the state of children's health and nutrition.

5. Until now, animal husbandry has been given little encouragement, because it was considered in this region to be a source of waste of the meagre local agricultural resources. In fact, animals are raised on land unsuited to other purposes, and this practice permits the use of vegetable by-products suitable only for animals. Nutritionally, animal foods represent a high-value food product because of the nutrients they provide - nutrients that complement very advantageously the cereal-based diet of the people of the Sahel. It is therefore recommended that animal husbandry in all its forms be encouraged in the villages of the Sahel.

6. The water supply remains the major concern of the rural populations of the Sahel. Because of the vital importance of water, it is recommended that priority be given to any attempt at increasing its supply in the villages of the Sahel. To this end it appears preferable to promote the installation of hydraulic pumps in the villages rather than the use of wells. This effort should also have an effect on improving the bacteriological quality of the water, a problem for which simple and realistic solutions must be advocated (locally made filters, simple manufactured devices, and so forth).

B. Recommendations on studies

There are a variety of reasons for which studies are undertaken and a variety of conditions under which they are conducted; each nutritional study therefore is of a unique kind. However, it does appear worthwhile to point out the following considerations to those who head studies:

1. The size of the sample is often too small, limiting the applicability of the study conclusions; therefore, these limited studies in which the sampling is not representative cannot be used for planning purposes.

2. To permit comparison of study data, methods both of measurement and of presenting results must be carefully standardized.

3. Particular attention must be paid to measuring the weight and height of young children. These measurements are the most trustworthy and most commonly used gauges for assessing nutrition in a population in terms of both the seriousness and the prevalence of protein-calorie malnutrition.

4. Of the biochemical tests that permit measurement of the extent of protein-calorie malnutrition, the plasma albumin test remains the most significant, at least for cross-sectional studies.

5. The high incidence of anaemia in the populations of the Sahel demonstrates the need to have every nutritional study, no matter what its objective, measure at least the level of haemoglobin in the blood. For this purpose, use of a portable haemoglobinometer that permits spectrophotometric measurement of cyanmethemoglobin is recommended. The Hemolux model, made by Datex Instrumentation Oy, PO Box 357, Helsinki 10, Finland, has been successfully tested. There are other models with the same technical capabilities on the market.

6. Because of the extent of iron deficiency anaemia and the important role played by vitamin C in the assimilation of dietary iron, it is recommended that studies focus on levels of ingestion of vitamin C. Losses of ascorbic acid during storage and cooking of food justify the suspicion that this vitamin plays a major role among the factors causing anaemia in the Sahel.

7. In order to implement intervention programmer for the most impoverished individuals, a better knowledge is needed of the causes of unequal distribution of food among various family groups in the same village and various members within a single family group. More information, therefore, is needed on the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the rural areas in the Sahel and on the dietary habits of each of the various ethnic groups.

C. Recommendations on research requirements

1. With respect to research on the nutritive value of foods, the following subjects require exploration: a. sorghum polyphenols: do they constitute toxic or antinutritional factors? b. the digestibility of sorghum: what explanation is there for the limited digestibility of this cereal? can it be improved? c. the biological value of proteins from different varieties of sorghum; d. the effect of cooking in traditional dishes on the nutritive value of cereals and legumes, considered separately or together; e. the effect of ingesting large quantities of whole grain fibres on the assimilation of nutrients in which the diet is deficient (specifically calcium, iron, zinc, and folates).

2. With respect to evaluating the results of intervention programmes focused on nutrition (agricultural and educational programmes and so on), it is recommended that new methods of evaluation be explored. For example, the benefits resulting from the introduction of mills or hullers could be measured by the amount of time saved through their use by the villagers. The effects are not measured solely in terms of money, but also in terms of the general improvement in living conditions (the social aspect specifically). It would also be advisable to carry out research on the relation between the state of nutrition, the ability to work, and the amount of development.

3. With respect to anthropometric standards, the extent to which international standards may be justifiably applied to the rural population of the Sahel must be determined; and, if needed, standards must be created that are adapted to the various ethnic groups of the region.

4. With respect to studies on food consumption, the practice is to compare intake of various nutrients with the daily recommended intake levels for populations living in temperate zones free from infection or parasites.

Research is needed to assess whether nutrient intake can be compared to that defined at the international level: apart from calorie and protein intake, research on iron, folates, riboflavin and vitamin C seems to be most needed.

Studies should be undertaken on the effects of limited or unbalanced intake of certain nutrients on the immunity of the Sahelian subjects, specifically with respect to riboflavin, zinc, iron, leucine, and so forth.

5. However, the state of nutrition in populations (children, among others) may be evaluated with several degrees of accuracy:

a. the rate of infant mortality (zero to five years and even into adolescence) makes it easy to ascertain the level of nutrition;

b. the same is true for studying the level of motor coordination in children, but this approach, despite appearances, is difficult;

c. some quantitative analysis of enzymes will be useful in refining the evaluation.

An international conference on food area nutrition planning was organized by the Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP) in Antigua, Guatemala, from 15 to 18 April 1980. The recommendations of the conference are summarized in English and given in full in Spanish.

1. Recommendations to governments

- Initiate, strengthen, or widen the scope of the food and nutrition planning process.

- Define urgently global policies and direct action programmes for clearly identified populations, giving priority to the poorer strata.

- Create multi-sectoral structures or systems for programme planning and implementation.

- Train human resources with guaranteed positions in public administration

- Lend support to specific structures and operative research necessary for the food and nutrition planning process.

- Obtain full community participation in the programmes in order to improve the nutritional status and health of community members.

- Establish efficient co ordinating mechanisms for better utilization of resources provided by international financial and technical assistance.

2. Recommendations to universities

- Broaden the training of food and nutrition scientists as required by the situation in developing countries.

- Include food and nutrition teaching in the curricula of the departments of economics, agriculture, education, and social sciences, and strengthen it in the medical and health sciences.

- Organize special courses on food and nutrition planning to meet the increasing demand for currently scarce human resources.

- Hold seminars and short courses on food problems in global development for professionals in the public service.

- Sponsor biological and social research on food and nutrition in order to improve the planning and implementation of specific programmes.

- Co-ordinate efforts between universities that offer short courses and postgraduate degrees in this field.

3. Recommendations to national and international financing organizations

- Adapt policies of technical and financial co-operation to the goals of food and nutrition planning and specific programmes and projects.

- Strengthen co-ordination between organizations and with governments, in order to concentrate all resources on priority areas.

4. International co-operation

Developing countries should harmonize the integration of international technical co-operation resources by establishing a national mechanism for multisectoral co-ordination between agencies. International technical co-operation should be channelled through a planning office, in accordance with national programming. It is effective in food and nutrition planning when it serves the following functions:

- forming a base for the structure for the development of a planning process;

- promoting and motivating political, technical, and operational, decisions;

- giving a direct reponse to the needs of national groups;

- stimulating the scientific and technical initiatives of national bodies;

- strengthening scientific efforts in dealing with nutrition problems and seeking alternative solutions.

Agencies should view co-operation not as "a contribution to development" but as a means of satisfying the basic needs of Latin American peoples.

La Conferencia discutió distintos aspectos del proceso de planificación alimentaria-nutricional y concluyó en una serie de recomendaciones, relacionadas con los distintos componentes del proceso analizados. Entre ellas, se han seleccionado las que se consideran de mayor importancia en relación con los propósitos generales de la Conferencia. Con el objeto de sistematizarlas, se enuncian a continuación, agrupadas de acuerdo con su destinatario principal.

1. Recomendaciones a los gobiernos

a. Ante la necesidad de satisfacer las necesidades básicas más urgentes de la población de los países en vías de desarrollo, es necesario incorporar la alimentación y la nutrición al proceso general de desarrollo económico y social, asignándole una alta prioridad.

b. Ante la gravedad de la situación nutricional de los países en vías de desarrollo, se hace necesario iniciar, fortalecer o ampliar en ellos el proceso de planificación de la alimentación y nutrición.

c. En los países en vías de desarrollo es urgente definir políticas globales de desarrollo que afecten el consumo de alimentos y el estado nutricional de los habitantes, así como formular programas de acción directa de alimentación y nutrición para poblaciones objetivo claramente identificadas, con prioridad para las comunidades de mayor pobreza.

d. Para facilitar el desarrollo del proceso de planificación y para formular y ejecutar los programas y proyectos específicos, es conveniente crear mecanismos, estructural o sistemas de carácter multisectorial, a los que se encargue el cumplimiento de tales responsabilitades.

e. Para el logro de los objetivos del proceso de planificación de la alimentación y nutrición, es urgente la formación de recursos humanos en cantidad y calidad adecuada, a los cuales se garantice sus correspondientes posiciones de trabajo en la administración pública.

f. Para iniciar o para desarrollar el proceso de planificación de la alimentación y nutrición, es recomendable respaldar la investigación operativa y los estudios específicos necesarios.

g. Para mejorar el estado nutricional y la salud de los miembros de las comunidades y reducir en ellos los problemas nutricionales, se requiere promover y apoyar la participación comunitaria en la formulación, ejecución y evaluación de los proyectos correspondientes.

h. Para una mejor utilización de los recursos aportados por la cooperación técnica y financiera internacional, es necesario establecer mecanismos eficaces de coordinación.

2. Recomendaciones para las universidades

a. La situación existente en los países en vías de desarrollo hace indispensable ampliar la formación de profesionales en ciencias de la alimentación y nutrición.

b. Ante la necesidad de una mejor comprensión de la problemática alimentaria-nutricional de los países en vías de desarrollo, se hace necesario incorporar la enseñanza de la alimentación y la nutrición en las facultades de economía, agricultura, educación y ciencias sociales, y reforzarla en las de medicina y demás ciencias de la salud.

c. Ante la demanda progresiva y la escasez de los recursos humanos necesarios para la planificación de la alimentación y la nutrición, se hace necesario organizar cursos destinados a capacitar profesionales en este campo.

d. Para obtener una participación más activa en la solución de los problemas alimentarios y nutricionales de los profesionales que trabajan en la planificación del desarrollo global y en los distintos organismos del sector público de países en vías de desarrollo, es necesario realizar seminarios y cursos cortos sobre dicha problemática, para tales profesionales.

e. Para facilitar una mejor formulación y ejecución de programas y proyectos específicos en el campo de la alimentación y nutrición, es necesario promover y llevar a cabo investigaciones biológicas y sociales sobre tales aspectos.

f. Con el fin de lograr un avance mayor y más rápido en los aspectos científicos y técnicos referentes a la formación de especialistas en planificación de la alimentación y nutrición y de maximizar las oportunidades de acceso a los cursos correspondientes de candidatos de todos los países de la región, es necesario promover la coordinación de esfuerzos entre las universidades que ofrecen cursos de post-grado y cursos cortos en esta especialidad.

3. Recomendaciones para los organismos de financiamiento nacionales e internacionales

Para que el apoyo a los países en vías de desarrollo sea más efectivo y su población pueda satisfacer sus necesidades básicas, es necesario:

a. Adaptar las políticas de cooperación técnica y financiera a los propósitos y objetivos de la planificación de la alimentación y nutrición y de los programas y proyectos específicos.

b. Fortalecer la coordinación de los organismos entre sí y en sus relaciones con los gobiernos, con el fin de concentrar los recursos humanos, materiales y financieros de ellos en el cumplimiento de los objetivos del proceso de planificación y de los programas que sean definidos como prioritarios.

4. La cooperación internacional

Un considerable grupo de países, principalmente en vías de desarrollo, está adoptando el proceso de la planificación de la alimentación y nutrición. Uno de los componentes que compatibiliza, armoniza e integra la relación de los recursos financieros y humanos, es la cooperación técnica internacional (CTI), cuyo alcance programático debe sujetarse a condiciones que propicien el éxito.

Para aprovechar al máximo la CTI en el proceso de planificación de la alimentación y nutrición, debe establecerse un mecanismo nacional que facilite la coordinación multisectorial de las diferentes agencies u organizaciones.

La CTI debe canalizarse a través de las entidades de asistencia técnica de las Oficinas de Planificación, de acuerdo con una programación nacional.

La CTI cumple su cometido en el campo de la planificación de la alimentación y nutrición cuando se orienta especialmente hacia los siguientes aspectos sustantivos:

a. Constituye un elemento útil de apoyo desde que se concibe la idea de implantar la estructura que se responsabilizará del desarrollo del correspondiente proceso planificador.

b. Participa en la promoción y la motivación de los niveles de decisión política, técnico y operacional.

c. Proporciona una respuesta inmediata, real, compatible y coherente ante los requerimientos de los grupos nacionales.

d. Estimula y concurre permanentemente ante las iniciativas científicas y tecnológicas del equipo nacional.

e. Refuerza la tarea de difusión científica de la problemática alimentario-nutricional y sus alternativas de solución.

Por último, en un cambio de políticas y estrategias, los países de América Latina deberían plantear a las agencias la necesidad de que cambien los criterios que orientan la cooperación como una "contribución al crecimiento" por el de satisfacción de las necesidades básicas de nuestros pueblos.

Forthcoming Meeting

A conference on Primary Health Care: World Strategy will be held jointly as the Third International Congress of the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA), and the Twenty-fifth Annual Conference of the Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), in Calcutta, India, 23-26 February 1981. It will constitute a review of plans and progress in implementing primary health care.

The WFPHA is a union of national public health association. working to strengthen the public health professions and to improve personal and community health throughout the world.

Under the co-sponsorship of WHO and UNICEF, the WFPHA Congress will gather health leaders and workers from around the world to share ideas and experiences in the spirit of primary health care pioneer Dr. John Grant, to whom the Congress is dedicated. His son, James P. Grant, Executive Director of UNICEF, will be the keynote speaker.

Sub-themes cover development of national plans of action, special demonstration and research projects, implementation of field programmes, manpower planning and training, and community participation. Speakers will include both top-level officials of sponsoring agencies and field-level managers with specific program experience.

Official language: English.

Registration fee: US$65 before 12 December 1980; US$75 thereafter (payable to IPHA, Calcutta).

For more information, write: IPHA, 110 Chittaranjan Ave., Calcutta 700073, India; or WFPHA Secretariat, c/o American Public Health Association (APHA), 1015 Fifteenth St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20005, USA.

Tours: Optional post-Congress tours will be offered. (APHA is arranging to combine the meeting with continuing education in India for its members and will arrange group travel from Washington and New York. Write to APHA at the above address.)

''Charter for Scientific Researchers'' Issued by the Science Council of Japan


In order to promote the sound development of scientific research in Japan, the Science Council of Japan recommended twice, in 1962 and in 1976, that the government prepare for the enactment of a Basic Act on Scientific Research to define its responsibility and urged the government to enact such a law. The Council has prepared and hereby issues a "Charter for Scientific Researchers" to complement the proposed Basic Act on Scientific Research, and itself resolves to abide by this Charter. The Council thus makes public the responsibility of scientific researchers themselves, and expects the researchers of Japan to accomplish their tasks in accordance with the spirit of the Charter.

Charter for Scientific Researchers

Science enriches human life by rational search for truth with actual evidence and also by applying the results in practical Up. The search for truth in scientific research and the application of its results belong to the highest intellectual activities of human beings. Scientific researchers who are engaged in these activities are required to be sincere toward reality, exclude arbitrary decisions and keep their minds pure and strict toward truth.

It is not only the demand of human society but also the duty of scientific researchers to promote the sound development of science and the beneficial application of its results. To fulfil their duty, each scientific researcher is required to act upon the following five points:

1. To be conscious of the significance and aim of his or her own research and to contribute to the welfare of mankind and world peace.

2. To defend the freedom of scientific research and to respect originality in research and development.

3. To attach importance to the harmonious development between various fields of science and to propagate the scientific attitude and knowledge among the general public.

4. To guard against disregard and abuse of scientific research and to strive to eliminate such dangers.

5. To place great value on the international nature of scientific research and to endeavour to promote interchanges with the scientific community of the world.

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