In the Post-World War II era, policies in the Global South have focused on improving the diet of impoverished populations, including the poor in Cuba, specifically on increasing animal protein consumption.
According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there are 852 million undernourished people in the world, of whom approximately 815 million reside in developing countries.
“Rampant hunger and malnutrition impair the economic performance of individuals, households, and entire nations, and can lead to political instability and civil strife,” said Carmen G. Gonzalez, a professor at the University of Seattle.
Likewise, the health systems of the majority of countries, whether rich or poor, are inefficient and fragmented, preventing marginalized communities’ access to crucial health systems.
Nonetheless, in Cuba, these policies have reduced hunger in recent years, and the number of undernourished people is significantly diminishing.
“Cuba represents an important alternative example where modest infrastructure investments combined with a well-developed public health strategy have generated health status measures comparable with those of industrialized countries,” suggested the International Epidemiological Association.
After the 1959 Revolution in Cuba, the government led efforts to improve the diet and the health of impoverished citizens. One form of these efforts was an increase in animal protein production and consumption.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “there has been an increasing pressure on the livestock sector to meet the growing demand for high-value animal protein. The world’s livestock sector is growing at an unprecedented rate and the driving force behind this enormous surge is a combination of population growth, rising incomes and urbanization.”
Urbanization stimulates improvements in social and political spheres and there is still a gap between rural and urban nutrition. “Compared with the less diversified diets of the rural communities, city dwellers have a varied diet rich in animal proteins and fats, and characterized by higher consumption of meat, poultry, milk and other dairy products,” said WHO.
As diets become richer and more diverse, the protein derived from the livestock sector could improve the nutrition of the poor in Cuba. But through a developed health system, the Cuban government has not only successfully reduced malnutrition but also developed an advanced socio-economic strategy uniquely designed for developing nations.
– Isabella Rolz
Sources: World Health Organization , International Epidemiological Association , FAO