An Ethical assessment of food fortification in Zambia

Thumbnail Image
Chihinga, Musole Kenneth
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Micronutrient malnutrition has been identified to be a public health problem affecting a wide range of the population in the world. Almost all African countries have been affected by it. Zambia has equally not been spared. In Zambia efforts have been made to fortify various foods. Despite these efforts the micronutrient deficiency diseases are still prevalent. This research’s main focus is to evaluate the programme of food fortification in Zambia from an ethical point of view, hence the title: “An Ethical Assessment of Food Fortification in Zambia.” The specific objectives were: to explain the debate about food fortification; to describe the current situation of food fortification in Zambia; to give an ethical evaluation of the current situation of food fortification in Zambia; and to recommend improvements of food fortification in Zambia. Primary data in this research were collected using semi-structured interviews. Purposively chosen officials from various departments of the government and other organizations that play a role in the programme of food fortification were interviewed. Selected consumers were also interviewed especially those from Kasempa. These included a chief, a headman and some of their subjects. Secondary data were collected from books, journals and the internet. It has been concluded that there is need to give fair opportunities to all the people to access fortified food so that the micronutrient deficiency diseases can be mitigated if not completely eradicated. The price of most of the fortified foods is quite high especially that of sugar and of other foods fortified outside Zambia. Mainly, it is the rich and those in urban areas who have easy access to it. There is also need to closely monitor and evaluate the programme of fortification especially that of fortifying the local salt mined at Kaimbwe in Kasempa district. Currently, fortification of the local salt has halted. This has put the majority local people at risk. Different ethical principles were used to assess the data. They include the principles of distributive justice, Rawls’s Theory of Justice, the Utility Principle and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Justice requires that an individual be given what is his or her due. All individuals should be given equal opportunities if they are to access fortified food. In the Zambian situation the poor should be specially treated by giving them fair opportunities to access fortified food, for instance by subsidising the food, so that they will have adequate micronutrients to improve their health, and their wellbeing. This would be a morally right policy according to utilitarianism. The people in influential positions must make rules and policies pertaining to fortified food impartially and rationally, as Rawls puts it, if the programme is to be a just one. People, especially the leaders, should realise that having access to fortified food is a human right as implicitly declared by the UN in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of 1948, hence the need to make it easily accessible by all.
Food Fortification , local salt