How was Nutrition Deficiency eradicated from Vietnam?

Nutrition Deficiency is a global issue especially in the developing economies. In 1990, Jerry Sternin came to Vietnam with only one purpose – to fight malnutrition among the children of Vietnam. The Vietnamese Government gave him six month to fix the issue. With that said, if he was unable to achieve the goal then he was asked to leave the country. 

Usually nutrition deficiency is prevalent in villages. Major factors included things such as health, sanitation, water cleanliness, ignorance among the villagers. 

This situation was True But Useless. True because yes, these issues were there but useless because this was not possible to be fixed within 6 months of time. These things take time and involve a lot of government intervention and initiation. 

Jerry Sternin in Vietnam
Jerry Sternin in Vietnam

Sternin wanted to understand the situation more. For that he went to the rural areas of Vietnam and tried to understand the conditions there. He met with the community groups, especially mothers.

There were two types of kids in villages. One who was fit and healthy and second who had nutrition deficiency. When he analysed more, he realised that children who were healthy were eating 4 times a day. On the other hand, children who ate only twice a day were malnourished. 

The food quantity was the same but the servings were increased from two to four. The kids were already born malnourished due to uncontrollable situations so their stomachs could not digest the food they were getting from their mothers. 

Jerry Sternin also realised that ‘bright’ mothers were also mixing shrimp and crab into the rice meal of the children. They would also make food from vegetables and sweet potatoes. Eventually this made the food healthier, adding vitamins and proteins into the diet of kids. 

He went door to door and conducted community meet-ups. He made people aware of the food they must include in their kids’ diet.

Within 6 months, 65% of the kids in the village were healthy. The program was originally started in 14 villages, it extended to 265 villages, reaching 2.2 million Vietnamese people.

Application of this Nutrition Deficiency Case

The importance of understanding – ‘True But Useless’. Something that is successful in Vietnam might never get successful in India or Morocco. True But Useless. There might be some obvious solutions to your questions but when you go and have a ground report, things will always turn out different. Sometimes the micro-changes can have a bigger impact than the macro-changes. It is the small changes in life that leads to bigger, larger and remarkable results.

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