Iron Deficiency in Bangladesh
Case Study #3-3 of the Program: ''Food Policy For Developing Countries: The Role Of Government In The Global Food System''
Iron deficiency, the most prevalent micronutrient deficiency in the world, affects more than 2 billion people. In Bangladesh it affects about half of all children and more than 70 percent of all women. The main cause of iron deficiency in Bangladesh is chronic inadequate dietary intake. This low iron intake has been attributed to many factors, including poverty, diets low in iron and rich in antinutrients, and hookworm infestation. Indeed, because the Bangladesh diet is dominated by consumption of polished rice, a poor micronutrient source, the population suffers from multiple micronutrient deficiencies. Various interventions exist to address iron deficiency, including fortification, supplementation, dietary diversification, and biofortification. Specialists do not intend these interventions to be independent iron deficiency alleviation tools, but rather approaches to be administered in a mix as required, as well as tools to be used in combination with non-nutritional measures such as poverty reduction interventions. They are administered to target groups according to their needs. These interventions have been implemented with mixed results in both the developed and the developing world. Before an intervention is implemented in Bangladesh, however, policy makers need to address issues such as whether to implement a targeted intervention, a national intervention, or both. In addition, they must decide whether iron is the only micronutrient they want to target, given that the population suffers from multiple micronutrient deficiencies. Whatever the intervention or set of interventions chosen, addressing the gap between what is desirable and what is feasible will present a challenge, given the facts on the ground. Your assignment is to recommend an appropriate government intervention to reduce iron deficiency in low-income people in Bangladesh.
9 pp.©Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. All rights reserved. This case study may be reproduced for educational purposes without express permission but must include acknowledgment to Cornell University. No commercial use is permitted without permission.
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Previously Published As
Angela Mwaniki (2007). Case Study #3-3, ''Iron Deficiency in Bangladesh''. In: Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Fuzhi Cheng (editors), ''Food Policy for Developing Countries: Case Studies.''9 pp.