I was excited to be taking a nutrition course this summer, since so much of the help the Skilled Birth Attendants will be able to give is in improving the health through nutrition and lifestyle. So far there hasn’t been much I didn’t know already.

Yesterday and today the class focused on vitamins and minerals which particularly interested me – how do they ensure they are getting the right mixes of foods in areas where food is not easily accessible. I am particularly interested in iron, since anemia is such a large problem and contributes to the maternal death rate.

I bring this up because in the listings of good sources of some minerals the sources were “fortified” food products. I don’t think the creators of the books understood how ethno-centric their teaching materials are. What about the majority of the people in the world, who live on just a few dollars a day and have no access to “fortified” foods. Why should I not be concerned about a mineral because it is easy for me to get when I eat here?

Nutrition is not the only subject that has been like that. In my health assessment course, the instructor told us many times that skills we were learning wouldn’t be used since the new technology was more reliable. Many of the girls in the class were frustrated to have to learn such “out-dated” skills. I just kept laughing to myself and learning those outdated skills that are going to help save lives where there are no doctors. Just a different perspective I guess.

So I’ll be spending the weekend trying to learn as much as possible about good sources of minerals and vitamins (which you will be happy to know are abundant in legumes, fruits and veggies) for families in Central Africa.