Nutritional Standards (W.H.O. Report)

Oral Answers to Questions — ST. Helena – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th June 1961.

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Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey 12:00 am, 13th June 1961

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action has been taken following the Report of the World Health Organisation on Nutritional Standards in St. Helena.

Photo of Mr Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone

As the reply is rather long I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Photo of Mr Cledwyn Hughes Mr Cledwyn Hughes , Anglesey

Does not the Report of the World Health Organisation reveal very great defects in the diet of the people of St. Helena, and will the hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. Friend to approve additional subsidies on essential foods so that the standard of the health of the people may be raised?

Photo of Mr Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone

When the hon. Gentleman looks at my Answer he will find that there has been an increase in some subsidies, but this movement was going on previously and was confirmed by the Report of the World Health Organisation. A movement in this direction had already been made by the St. Helena Government.

Following is the reply:The following developments have taken place in relation to matters referred to in the Report of the World Health Organisation's Nutritional Consultant:
  1. (i) Economic status. The wages of workers in the hemp industry and Government employees have been raised. The import duty on food and clothing has been reduced and corned beef and cheese added to the list of subsidised foods.
  2. (ii) Vegetables and fruit. Materials have been ordered for the irrigation of the Government farm at Longwood and for gardens in Jamestown. Government assistance, including advice and supply of planting materials, is given to owners of market and home gardens as part of a land improvement scheme. Fisher's Valley is now irrigated and is being brought into production, An entomologist was employed for two years and his report on insect pests has been made available. The introduction of a scheme for pest control is under consideration. All the produce from school gardens is now distributed free to school children, including the fruit at two large schools, and progress is being made with fruit growing at other schools.
  3. (iii) Animal food production. A plan for increasing catches of fish for home consumption and improved distribution has so far been held up by the shortage of fishermen and the lack of interest on their part and by prejudice against frozen fish. Some assistance to fishing is being provided by building boat sheds and the supply, at cost, of repair materials and equipment for boats Efforts are being made to increase production of meat, milk and eggs by improving pasture and reclaiming barren land especially by fencing and by eliminating free-ranging goats. A Hereford bull and a Cheviot ram were recently imported in an effort to improve the island's livestock. The supply of dried milk from UNICEF which was interrupted has now been resumed.
  4. (iv) Anaemia. When necessary iron is administered to pregnant and lactating women.
  5. (v) Vitamin A deficiency. The supply of Vitamin A capsules from UNICEF which was interrupted has been resumed.
  6. (vi) Ascorbic acid deficiency. Ascorbic acid is administered where there is evidence of deficiency.
  7. (vii) Children's growth. Height and weight records are kept.
  8. (viii) Maternity and child welfare. The instruction of mothers in the preparation of dried milk and the feeding of infants has been intensified.
A great part of Government resources has been devoted to improvement in the standard of living and the development of agriculture and most of the above measures are only in part the consequences of the Nutrition Report