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KOLKATA – En el extremo este de Kolkata, a Dalu Bibi, una mujer de 25 años madre de cuatro niños, le preocupa el costo del tratamiento de sus dos hijos varones enfermos. Su marido gana 80-90 rupias (1,90 dólares o 1,40 euros) por día. La dieta básica de la familia es baja en los micronutrientes esenciales que los niños necesitan para sobrevivir. Los dos hijos de Dulu, de uno y tres años, son débiles, tienen un estado febril constante, no tienen apetito y lloran mucho. “Si tengo que gastar 150-200 rupias en remedios” pregunta, “¿qué comeré y con qué alimentaré a mis hijos?”

La historia de Dulu es desgarradora –y desgarradoramente común- en el mundo en desarrollo: tres mil millones de personas sobreviven con dietas que carecen de micronutrientes como vitamina A y zinc, y corren un riesgo cada vez mayor de contraer enfermedades a partir de infecciones comunes como la enfermedad diarreica, que mata aproximadamente dos millones de niños por año.

La deficiencia de micronutrientes es conocida como “hambre oculta”. Es una descripción apropiada, porque se trata de uno de los desafíos globales de los que oímos hablar relativamente poco en el mundo desarrollado. Atrae escasa atención de los medios o fuego de artificio de las celebridades, que suelen ser cruciales para atraer donaciones de beneficencia a una causa.

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