Health & Nutrition

A youth group in South Africa learns good nutrition and how to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS.

A youth group in South Africa learns good nutrition and how to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS.

Health and nutrition are important parts of poverty-alleviation plans. Malnutrition is ever-present in poor communities. Malnutrition leads to weakened immune systems. This, in turn, makes people more susceptible to illness and disease.

Sickness Exacerbates Poverty

When someone is sick, not only does a family struggle to pay for medicines or treatment, but the family also loses valuable labor. A good understanding of sound nutrition and how illnesses spread and can go a long way towards preventing devastating illnesses. It also promotes healthy birth weights for babies and a stronger recovery from pregnancy for mothers.

Nutrition goes hand-in-hand with improving crop yields and growing gardens.

Some of the underlying causes of malnutrition include the inability of families to grow or purchase enough food for their needs. They may have limited knowledge of nutrition. In many patriarchal societies, women and adolescent girls simply may not have as much food to eat as their brothers or fathers. Men often eat first, leaving the remainder for wives and children.

Integrated Solutions

Each year, thousands of women learn about nutrition through workshops lead by “peer educators” who are trained by IDEX partners. Nutrition goes hand-in-hand with improving crop yields and growing gardens to supplement family incomes and intake of nutritious foods. Some regions have “vegetable exhibitions” to promote successful organic agriculture.

IDEX partners also support holistic programs for the prevention and awareness of HIV, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and reproductive health. Programs aim to increase women’s access to critical health care services.

In South Africa, programs address stigma around HIV. Stigma prevents many men and women from getting tested for AIDS. Other programs are designed to support many grandmothers, neighbors, and relatives who are left to care for thousands of orphans.

Read more about IDEX’s work on health on our blog.