Monday, March 12, 2007

Food Insecurity Equals Madness

I call it the "belt sign". At a well-known tuberculosis hospital in Port-au-Prince, when men get on the scales to be weighed, their leather belts frequently wrap all the way around to the middle of their backs. They are not only sick--they don't have enough to eat. And many have AIDS.

In Haiti and many "developing" countries, starvation and malnutrition are hurting the fight against AIDS. Food is replacing drugs as the biggest need.

The Associated Press reported that the "U.N. World Food Program has launched nutrition programs in Haiti and 50 other countries with the worst HIV rates, providing monthly food supplements for patients and their families. Without adequate nutrition, AIDS suffers cannot absorb the drugs needed to slow the virus.

"Worldwide, an estimated 3.8 million people with AIDS needed food support this year, possible rising to 6.4 million by 2008, according to the World Food Program."

The British journal HIV Medicine had a study that concluded hungry people are six times more likely to die when taking AIDS medication than those with good nutrition.

Can you imagine not providing enough to eat in the developed world for people that were suffering from AIDS? The Associated Press article stated that Stephen Lewis, special U.N. envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, called the lack of funding for food (for people with AIDS) "madness". Health workers in the "developing" world must view food security as being no less important to a person's health than the right drugs and regular checkups.

(The young lady pictured has AIDS and lives in Cite Soleil. She doesn't get enough to eat either.)

"God comes to the hungry in the form of food."
Mahatma Ghandi


Pam said...

Dear John,

I thought you might be interested in this story on teaching people in urban Haiti to garden in small spaces.

How can we get more of this happening, I wonder.


John A. Carroll, M.D. said...


I was unable to open this link.


Pam said...

Dear John,

Well, this page is gotten to through frames, I think, and is hard to get to otherwise.

If you go to and click on "Global Gardening," and on the resulting page, click on "Haiti," it will take you to it. I have been unable to find a web page for Haiti Gardens, but this sounds promising. I am looking forward to making contact with them and finding out more about what they're doing.