Food aid in emergencies and public health nutrition.

Rita Bhatia, Andrew Thorne-Lyman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


HUNGER LEAVES SCARS: The visible kind may be born by the survivors of famine. Less visible, but all the more damaging, are the long-term effects of hunger that run through families through generations. Hunger passed from mother to child represents a ruinous inheritance. It marks a cycle of hunger that transcends generations, unless the cycle is broken. Food aid provided at crucial times in the lives of women and infants represents an investment for future. Thus, in contrast to former conceptions of food aid as an exclusively life-saving vehicle, modern aims of food aid also include preventing increases in the prevalence of malnutrition and asset depletion. Mass migration and food shortages have been responsible for most deaths following civil conflicts around the world. The most visible form of migration occurs when people cross international borders. The reasons for the flight of refugees and internally displaced persons are generally same; war, civil strife, and persecution. "NUTRITIONAL GATEWAYS": Finally, the importance of timely and sustained delivery of adequate food aid adequate in quality and quantity to people in dire need during the emergency is paramount. Food aid is the most direct means for conveying nutritional benefits: the time frame is often limited, sustainability is not an issue. However, in the case of drought victims, refugees or displaced people, the nutritional situation and the actions needed are more complex. In many situations people arrive are often in very bad state. While high prevalence of malnutrition is associated with inadequate food rations, in some situation malnutrition developed primarily because of the high incidence of diarrhoeal diseases. The synergism between high malnutrition and increased incidence of communicable diseases explains much of excess mortality seen in refugee and displaced persons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-394
Number of pages4
JournalForum of nutrition
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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