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Letter to the editor


Considering that the UNU programme is aimed at the solution of practical field problems through the academic communities, it would be useful and worthwhile for UNU to set up pilot programmes to test different ways of accomplishing this objective. A still untested way would be for several groups of individuals from different institutions to join together to form a nation-wide consortium. It is understood that this is not an easy task, but the reality is that, in a country like Brazil, and I believe this is true in a number of countries, sometimes we do not need external funds for more equipment but we do need money readily available to carry on our local programmes.

The training of our personnel in Brazilian Hunger Problems should preferably be carried out in the country, in local centres, supported by national and international organizations. Only after their training in different local institutions, should they go abroad to selected centres and countries. An alternative possibility to help us to solve our pressing hunger problems should be to provide some financial support from UNU to co-ordinate local personnel by forming a national consortium that would be led by a steering committee. We believe that a programme of this type could constitute a real breakthrough worthy of UNU support. The consortiums should be composed of scientists who are already well trained and know the problems of their countries.

Such consortiums could discuss local hunger problems, propose new food and nutrition programmes, and mobilize additional financial support for collaborative work within their own country or with outside groups. What needs emphasis is that scientists from developing countries sometimes need more support to stimulate local personnel rather than additional funds for more training abroad or for research projects.

In Brazil the scientists and most of the equipment needed to carry out work aimed at solving local nutritional problems are already available in different laboratories. Many of these individuals are willing to work together, but it is sometimes difficult to find local money available for such a programme. It is our hope that the idea of a consortium of knowledgeable individuals already at work in different institutions will be given a test by the World Hunger Programme. Such support should not be linked to previous or new research projects, but rather should stimulate collaborative work by individuals pooling their experience and willingness to solve hunger problems through local efforts. In a new and dynamic organization such as UNU, this concept should be considered as a complementary approach to those that already support institutions, training programmes, research, and workshops.

J.E. Dutra de Oliveira, M.D.
Professor of Nutrition
Medical School of Ribeirão Preto, Brazil

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