Een gezond leven begint bij een gezonde moeder

ISLAMABAD – Vorige maand hield Green Templeton College (GTC) van de Universiteit van Oxford zijn jaarlijkse Emerging Markets Symposium in Egrove Park. Dit jaar was het thema “Gezondheid en Voeding van Moeder en Kind”. De laatste dia bij de openingstoespraak, die werd verzorgd door GTC-fellow Stephen Kennedy, was een cartoon van twee jonge deelnemers die zich opmaakten voor de start van een race: de een was sterk en gezond, de ander uitgemergeld, geketend, ziek en ondervoed. De boodschap was helder: niet iedereen begint zijn leven met dezelfde kansen op succes.

Dit is uiteraard geen baanbrekend inzicht. De invloed van factoren als armoede, de woonomstandigheden, het alfabetisme van de moeder en het wel of niet aanwezig zijn van sanitaire voorzieningen op de gezondheidstoestand van kinderen – en, op hun beurt, op hun sociaal-economische prestaties – is goed gedocumenteerd. Het probleem is dat deze factoren zich niet lenen voor geïsoleerde gezondheidszorgingrepen. Maar bij een andere, minder algemeen besproken factor – de voeding van moeders – zou dat misschien wél kunnen.

Sinds Hippocrates hebben mensen bediscussieerd hoe “natuur” en “opvoeding” met elkaar samenwerken om de ontwikkeling van een persoon vorm te geven. Zelfs in oude beschavingen werd een toereikende voeding van de moeder beschouwd als cruciaal voor het overleven en de welvaart van toekomstige generaties. Maar armoede en onwetendheid kunnen zelfs de beste bedoelingen ondermijnen.

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