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close this bookCulture, Environment, and Food to Prevent Vitamin A Deficiency (International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries - INFDC, 1997, 208 pages)
close this folderPart II. Creating the protocol
close this folder3. Theory and process: The methods
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentThe International Union of Nutritional Sciences, committee on nutrition and anthropology
View the documentTheory of the methodological approach
View the documentOverview of methods of data-collection described in the protocol manual
View the documentTesting the protocol
View the documentComment

The International Union of Nutritional Sciences, committee on nutrition and anthropology

The International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) Committee II/6 on Nutrition and Anthropology was the conception point for this project. Committee II/6 convened from 1990 to 1994 with the mandate to facilitate solutions to food and nutrition problems through the application of anthropological knowledge and techniques. To this end, the committee identified its objectives to address vitamin A deficiency, and in particular the use of natural food sources of vitamin A in communities to prevent deficiency. A planning subcommittee met in Washington D.C. in November 1990, to define its goals, and to set the framework of the project described here, which became an activity of the committee.

The IUNS Committee II/6 was comprised of Isabel Nieves (Guatemala) and Harriet Kuhnlein (Canada) as co-chairs; Gretel Pelto (USA, WHO), Richard Young (Canada, IDRC), S. Abdel-Azim Wahba (Egypt), C. Santos-Acuin (Philippines), P. Pushpamma (Singapore), K. Kalumba (Zambia), N. Ngokwey (Benin), H. Creed-Kanashiro (Peru), and L.H. Martinez Salgado (Mexico). The planning subcommittee became Kuhnlein, Pelto, Nieves, and Young; other committee members who eventually participated in the project were Acuin, Pushpamma, and Creed-Kanashiro.

Several committee members had previous experience with rapid ethnographic assessments, and it was significant that the origins of the ideas for the project germinated at the RAP conference in 1990 in Washington (see Scrimshaw and Gleason, 1992). Committee member G. Pelto had substantial experience in the creation of ethnographic assessments in health programs, notably with the respiratory diseases manual in use with WHO (Pelto and Gove, 1992; Gove and Pelto, 1994; WHO, 1993a; 1994). It was therefore felt that sufficient experience in this area existed within the committee.

Objectives and Funding

The planning subcommittee proceeded to define the objectives and workplan of the project, with the first step being a literature review. With the financial assistance of the International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries (N. Scrimshaw), a literature review was completed and published through McGill University with the participation of S.L. Booth, T. Johns, H.V. Kuhnlein, and I. Nieves (Booth et al., 1992, Johns et al., 1992, Kuhnlein, 1992; Kuhnlein and Nieves, 1992).

A one-year project proposal was funded by IDRC through McGill University (H.V. Kuhnlein) to develop a community assessment protocol manual for the identification of locally-available food sources of vitamin A. The protocol was to identify food sources, describe current patterns of use, particularly in relation to infants, children, and pregnant and lactating women, and to elucidate the ecological, economic, and cultural factors that influence these patterns. It would identify community beliefs and practices related to the signs and symptoms of xerophthalmia and health care practices related to these. The protocol was to be tested in five diverse areas of culture and ecology/food system type to fine tune it and determine its generalizability. Field testing was used to identify useful information resulting from the protocol for implementing food-based vitamin A deficiency prevention programs.

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries (INFDC) agreed to jointly publish two volumes related to the project: Community Assessment of Natural Food Sources of Vitamin A: Guidelines for Ethnographic Studies and Culture, Environment and Food to Prevent Vitamin A Deficiency. Publication planning and finalization was coordinated through the Centre for Nutrition and the Environment of Indigenous Peoples of McGill University.

Persons Involved, Basic Activities and Timeline

With objectives and planning accomplished, funding was implemented in 1993-1994. The persons finally contributing to the project were as follows:

· Planning: H.V. Kuhnlein, G. Pelto, R. Young, P. Pelto, I. Nieves

· Initial field testing and creation of module sections to the protocol manual: L. Blum, G. Pelto, T. Johns, S. Booth, H.V. Kuhnlein

· Literature review: S. Booth, T. Johns, H.V. Kuhnlein

· Training workshop: P. Pelto, L. Blum

· Field test site supervisors: L. Blum (Niger), H. Creed-Kanashiro (Peru), C. Santos-Acuin (Philippines), Li Wen Jun (China), P. Pushpamma (India). Site visits by P. Pelto, H.V. Kuhnlein

· Revisions to protocol manual: P. Pelto, H. V. Kuhnlein, G. Pelto, L. Blum

· Publications finalizing and submission: H.V. Kuhnlein

The timeline of activities was as follows:

· Communications with IUNS Committee II/6, identification of interested committee members, planning: 1990-1994

· Planning committee meetings in Washington, and by conference call: 1990-1993

· Training workshop, McGill University: May, 1993

· Commitment by field supervisors, budget distribution: May-August, 1993

· Field site testing: July, 1993-January, 1994

· Receipt of field test results: January, 1994

· Workshop on manual revisions: January, 1994

· Final revisions to manual received: January-June, 1994

· Submission of funding report and final draft of manual: June, 1994

· Reports to scientific meetings:

IUNS: August, 1993
Experimental Biology (FASEB): April, 1994
American Anthropology Association (AAA): November, 1994
IVACG: March, 1996

· Chapters to companion volume received: June-December, 1995

· Publications: March, 1996