Home Institution

Duke University

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Mali: Health, Gender, and Community Empowerment


Africa has long been a region of the world marked by the media as one of rail thin children with distended bellies and older men and women with cracked and wrinkled skin sagging off their bones. Media outlets like BBC, CNN, and the New York Times focus entire sections of their websites to special reports entitled ‘Famine in Africa’2, ‘Food Crisis in Niger’3, and ‘East Africa Famine 2011’4. Photos of children curled up on the ground, ribs and bones protruding at every angle grace the pages of nearly every magazine and newspaper. Nongovernmental organizations plead for donations and host fundraisers to end the hunger. This is a familiar sight, one that the media has used as a common image for Africa. However, as the governments of Africa and outside forces focus their attention on malnutrition, which remains an overwhelming problem and merits the attention it receives, there is a potentially more threatening epidemic hidden beneath its veil. One that requires attention before it claims the last few countries that have escaped its grasps. One that is preventable. Though obesity in the rest of the world is attracting much attention, the epidemic in Africa and low income countries elsewhere remains hidden, and while great strides are being made to diminish the rates of malnutrition, rates of obesity are climbing quickly and little effort is being made to stop them.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Family, Life Course, and Society | Public Health Education and Promotion | Women's Studies


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