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August 06, 1983 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1983-08-06

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OPINIO

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. . . ~

Page 6

The Michigan Daily

Saturday, August 6, 1983

The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCIII, No. 32-S
93 Years of E ditorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by students of
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
Never again

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Hunger strikes U. S.

As one reads history ... one is absolutely sickened,.
not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but By 'Mary Jo McConahay
by the punishments that the good have inflicted. - A F C-
- Oca Wide SAN FRANCISCO - The
recession has passed for most
Americans, but for many others
T HE PUNISHMENT the United States it remains disturbingly evident at
inflicted on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, dinner time. Economic troubles
Japan 38 years ago today is something all hit millions so hard - in the
Americans must live with and painfully chers already are noticing what
remember for the rest of this country's existen- may be debilitating health effects
ce. of hunger, American-style.
This hunger is less visible than
We must remember the more than 200,000 the starvation which produces
killed in the world's first and only emaciated adults and toddlers
peopleky with distended bellies in Third
atomic bomb attacks so that we never let such a World countries. Rather, it
cruel event happen again. For if we do not learn results from an inability to get
from history - and somehow allow nuclear enough food on the table day after
holocaust to occur again - not only will we go day, is more likely to produce
what the World Health
down in history as the country that unleashed Organization calls "silent
the world's first atomic bomb, but as the coun- malnutrition."
try that failed to contain the spread of nuclear According to Dr. J. Larry
war. After all, we opened the nuclear Pandora's Brown of the HarvardsSchool of
box; we lit the nuclear fuse, and now it is up to us Public Health there is concern
that such hunger is behind an ap-
to make sure the flame is never ignited parent increase among American
again. infants in the condition
pediatricians call "failure to
To be sure, this is no easy task - we have the thrive." In cases where pregnant
weight of the world as we know it on our mothers have deficient nutrition,
shoulders. But it is a responsibility we researchers suggest that it may
contribute to the widening gap in
automatically assumed the instant the first U.S. infant mortality rates bet-
bomb on Hiroshima was dropped. ween whites and minorities.
Warning signals of an impen-
The burden of peace is with us because of our ding, hunger-related decline in
record. The Soviet Union has never dropped America's general good health
any nuclear bombs; Cuba and Nicaragua have now are sounding in several parts
never dropped any nuclear bombs; China has of the country:
neve drppe an nucearbombs ; only we - At Chicago's Cook County
never dropped any nucleary Hospital an increase in failure-to-
have. That means it is our moral responsibility thrive cases has led nutritionists
to put an end to the production and deployment and volunteer staff members to
of nuclear weapons throughout the world. monitor children under 2 years of
age treated in the hospital's
The only way to do that is to begin serious emergency room, according to
arms reduction talks with the Soviet Union. So direc the study. The directo of
far, the Reagan administration has failed to do protective services, Dr. Cathryn
so, claiming the Soviets aren't willing to, either. Better, reports that more babies
In reality, the Soviets have been no less willing seen at Cook also are suffering
to talk than Washington, but even if they were it is from "water intoxication." As
up to us to put pressure on them to do so. Put jamoney for food runs out, she ex-
plained, some mothers try to
simply, the ball is in our court. "stretch" milk and formula with
No American likes knowing that his or her water.
country - in only a few hours time - destroyedI more than 364,000 people were cut
over 200,000 human lives. As disturbing as that from nutrition programs, in-
knowledge is, however, if we learn from our cluding school breakfasts and
mistakes and do everything humanly possible lunches, following federal cut-
to prevent them from happening again, we can backs and policy changes, a
salvage the human decency and moral integrity team monitored patients at the
this country is supposed to stand for. pediatric walk-in clinic. Initial
"Never again." That is what we must say to findings showed that nearly three
times the normal rate of children
ourselves today, tomorrow, and everyday af- aged 5 and under were in the
ter. lowest fifth percentile of growth.

- At the Jackson-Hinds (Coun-
ty) Clinic in Mississippi, Dr.
James Anderson, themedical
director, says it appears local
families will continue to have
trouble getting food on the table.
Three large local manufacturing
plants in the area which closed in
the last two years show no signs
of reopening, and the clinic now
receives patients who formerly
were covered by health insurance
at their place of employment.
According to Anderson, the
federal WIC (Women, Infants
and Children supplemental food)
program is a boon to those who
can get it, improving birth
weights and generally keeping
poor infants and new mothers
healthier. "Yet it doesn't reach
as many as it should," says An-
derson. "Out here many don't
have a car or the money for gas to
go and pick up the food, and now
the program has cut out the slots
for the outreach people to help
them."
- At the Pine Ridge, N.D., In-
dian reservation, registered nur-
se Geraldine Janis says many of
the approximately 12,000 Lakota
Sioux there have no employment
and have become dangerously
dependent on government
welfare and food commodities.
vet "what they get (in food
stamps and commodities)
generally lasts only about the fir-
st two weeks. For the rest of the
month they try to borrow from
neighbors or do without," she
says.
This year Dr. Alan Trachten-
berg of Pine Ridge's Indian
Health Service Hospital called on
the federal Centers for Disease
Control to study what Trachten-
berg termed an "alarming in-
crease" in Sudden Infant Death
Syndrome, a malady which tends
to be linked with poverty, in-
cluding poorly nourished
mothers.
Janis, director of a group of 22
community health represen-
tatives, says she sometimes feels
she's fighting an uphill battle.
"I'm afraid there's going to be a
lot more hungry here this win-
ter," says Janis.
- After the Michigan Depar-
tment of Public Health released a
report this year showing the
largest year-to-year increase in
infant deaths since World War II,
the private Food Research and
Action Center (FRAC) in
Washington, D.C., began to con-
tact cities and states across the
country to determine whether the

infants
trend was widespread. Initial
findings in a telephone survey
showed apparent rising infant
mortality rates statewide in
Alabama, Alaska, Kansas,
Missouri, Nevada, Rhode Island
and West Virginia.
Although infant mortality
dropped nationally to a rate of
11.7 deaths per 1,000 live births in
1981, in sections of Detroit it is as
high as in Honduras - 33 per
1,000. Moreover, according to an
administrative petition presented
to Health and Human Services
(HHS) Director Margaret
Heckler this summer by a
coalition of public interest, health
and civil rights groups, the gap
between infant deaths of white
and minority babies is growing.
The HHS assistant secretary
for health, Dr. Edward N. Brandt
Jr., counters that FRAC's con-
clusions were based on "random
fluctuations" and that because
there was an overall decline in
the national infant death rate, the
concerns expressed in the
petition were not warranted.
Clinical evidence that "silent
malnutrition" is a factor in the
increase of such health problems
is hard to come by. Yet Dr. Carol
Korenbrot of the Institute for
Health Policy Studies at the
University of California at San
Francisco says the food factor is
widely believed to be a pivotal
one by health professionals. "It's
so commonsensical," she says,
"and nobody believes it isn't true
because it can't be absolutely
proven."
She also points to possible
future learning and development
problems among children who go
hungry as infants.
Brown of Harvard agrees.
"Our knowledge of the actual im-
pact of hunger on health is
presently less clear than the fact
of its existence," he testified
before the Senate Agriculture
Subcommittee on Nutrition this
spring.
Short-term measures - or bet-
ter food after a lengthy period of
hunger - will not solve the
problem, he adds. A child's brain,
says Brown, is something like a
construction site. The materials.
and the work crew have to be
there at the same time. "If the
bricks are delivered after the
crew is gone," he says, "they
won't become part of the
building."
ivkiConahay wrote this article
for the Pacific News Service.

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