When will developing countries stop importing knowledge? (33) Health education and nutrition

19 October, 2018

Dear Obi,

Thanks for your rich insights. However, I think the issue goes beyond different experts blaming corrupt politicians. Africans who have been exposed to other parts of the world, like you and me, have to rise up and be counted. We can start leading transformation in our small ways from wherever we are. It is easy to blame politicians as if they are standing in the way of predictable progress yet the entire society should play its role.

I am glad that your passion is information transfer which is very important in changing lives. In almost all African countries including big economies like Nigeria and South Africa, why is nutrition knowledge still locked in academia and health institutions? There have not been efforts to develop appropriate ways of sharing nutrition knowledge with the majority, except students studying medicine and other related sciences. In health institutions knowledge about nutrition is still locked in health personnel who can only share it through surgeries, clinics and hospitals when they give prescriptions to patients. Unless you become a patient you don’t access some of the knowledge.

There have not been meaningful efforts to increase ordinary people's awareness of nutrition issues. Pathways of simplifying and localizing science and nutrition are still missing. We have not developed appropriate terminologies that people can relate to in their daily lives. For instance, terms like Iron, Zinc and Vitamins A, B, C, D and other labels do not have local equivalent explanations. It means we are still using imported knowledge and terminologies. Ordinary people wonder what is the difference between Iron as steel and Iron as nutrition or whether these are related. What is the difference between Zinc as nutrition and Zinc as roofing material?

When their relative is admitted in hospital, people bring bananas, oranges, apples and other fruits for the patient with no idea of what these fruits have in terms of nutrition and what they contribute to the patient’s healing process. They are not informed from a nutrition perspective. Otherwise, they would also bring other wild fruits or tubers with equivalent nutritional components if they knew the science behind the nutrition.

Consumers and patients have a lot of unanswered questions and in the absence of clear answers, they end up depending on beliefs and trusting the people giving them prescriptions. Simplifying science to be part of ordinary people’s daily lives does not require foreign currency or a politician giving us instructions.

Best,

Charles Dhewa

Chief Executive Officer

Knowledge Transfer Africa (KTA)

Harare City Council Community Services Building, Mbare Agriculture Market Harare, Zimbabwe

Tel: +263-4-669228

Mobile: +263 774 430 309 / 772 137 717/712 737 430

Email: charles@knowledgetransafrica.com

charlesdhewa7@gmail.com

dhewac@yahoo.co.uk

Website: www.knowledgetransafrica.com / www.emkambo.co.zw

Skype: charles.dhewa

HIFA profile: Charles Dhewa is the Chief Executive Officer of Knowledge Transfer Africa (Pvt) Ltd based in Harare, Zimbabwe. He is a HIFA Country Representative

http://www.hifa.org/people/country-representatives

http://www.hifa.org/support/members/charles

dhewac AT yahoo.co.uk