Project Everest

Prevention based solutions to malnutrition

by
(Account removed)
(Account removed) | Jul 27, 2017 | in Health Consulting

The Problem

Malnutrition is major health issue in Malawi, low birth weight is one of the top reasons for infant deaths and doctors who were interviewed by the July Health Team said that malnutrition was the foundation for allowing many other sicknesses to take over peoples’ body. In addition, from the surveys we conducted we learned that many villagers wanted to learn more about nutrition for themselves and their families.

The Solution

Currently the common treatment for patients with malnutrition is to increase their calorie intake by giving them cooking oil. However this is not a sustainable approach and can cause a range of other health issues from a diet high in added fats. To help address this problem I have come up with an idea that I feel can be added to a bigger tech based health platform that covers other functions including prevention, diagnosis and treatment. My idea is an app that allows locals to enter their typical daily diet to receive information about how many calories they have eaten, and what nutrients they are lacking. This technology already exists as numerous dieting apps. My idea builds on this concept with advice on how to correct any deficiency through foods specific to that region. The app would suggest foods that are commonly found or grown in the area and also meet the nutritional needs of the individual. I would also like to app to have a catalogue of local recipes to suggest in conjunction with the foods themselves.

I envision this solution being part of a holistic approach that could refer users to some of our other ideas associated with agriculture and social consulting including farming techniques to grow the required foods or micro financing to help them properly feed their families and still have crops to sell.

I feel that this app could be a useful tool for both individuals who want to improve their health and health care providers who could use the information to learn more about their patients during consultations, educate their patients on ways to prevent malnutrition and be an alternative to just giving patients cooking oil and sending them home.

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions on this idea and the concept of building a health suite that addresses prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Dolly Phiri Aug 3, 2017

Gabby, I think this is a really great idea! It empowers people to look after themselves and take responsibility for their own nutrition as opposed to the clinic handing out those packs and basically telling them exactly what to eat, which is somewhat patronising.

I like how the app is tailored to their specific geographical location, that ensures that they can easily access the ingredients and that would also be best suited to their bodies as opposed to introducing a completely new food (e.g taking protein shakes or quinoa to local African villages).

However, I think an education component at the start as well just to explain like what calories are and the importance of maintaining a specific calorie intake to remain healthy. The surveys we conducted did reveal that most people had attended nutrition classes and would like to learn more so this app would definitely have demand as it addresses a need and want. Since you are already dealing with nutrition and food, it could also incorporate safe food practices as this could help eliminate disease caused by poor food handling as well.

Also, there could be room for error with diagnosing the wrong deficiency but that's with every type of technology so maybe further consulting with a doctor or nutritionist could be beneficial. Perhaps the app could suggest the potential defiencies and the nutritionist will further assess if this is correct and what other defiencies there are that the app has not picked up?

Otherwise, I really do think this is a really great idea and I look forward to seeing what other people think as well.

Reply 2

Soni Lawson Aug 3, 2017

Gabby, This a great concept because it is important to know what you eat. I like that this idea and the way you have specified it according to the region and country so it can accommodate specifically to those areas. I also like the fact that this concept covers micro-financing and agriculture. However I do agree an education competent would be beneficial to understand some of the terminology and why this is important to have. I would be really interested to see how it turns out because it is a great concept.

Reply 2

Claire Bushrod Aug 8, 2017

Hey Gabby, I think this is a fantastic solution to the issue of malnutrition and the problems that it can lead to. I especially like how you focus on creating variation in diet. From our surveys we found that most families were eating three meals a day, however this usually consisted of nsima and maybe a vegetable. So focusing on creating a wider variety of foods eaten is very important. In response to Dolly's comment I really like the idea of including an education component for safe food practices as this could be beneficial in combating other illnesses concurrently.

Will the app be able to be personalised? This could be a good idea to ensure it is providing appropriate information to the correct parties. For example pregnant women will need different nutritents to someone who isn't pregnant, especially because this app is designed to combat low birth weights. I think allowing the app to be personalised will help prevent too many people needing to follow up with a doctor and putting pressure on the system. As with many of the app based solutions there is the problem of access to technology for the villagers, do you propose a community tablet?

Again, great idea!!

Reply 1