What do you do when your husband or father can no longer provide for your family because of a stroke in his 30s? High blood pressure is called the “silent killer.” It stealthily destroys your cardiovascular health and you don’t even know that you have a problem. Or what about the father who dies prematurely from unmanaged diabetes? What do you say to the grieving mother whose newborn is diagnosed with hydrocephaly or spina bifida? Why do we have an epidemic of children born with nutrition-related birth defects?
These are all true situations which our Community Health partners in Kyrgyzstan have encountered, and they devastate families. The health statistics in Kyrgyzstan for nutrition-related diseases are dismal: the number one and two causes of death in this country are heart disease and stroke. Liver disease is number three* (primarily cirrhosis from alcoholism), and while diabetes is not listed in the top ten, it is also a serious problem, with obesity also an emerging problem. Kyrgyzstan ranks in the top 20 countries with the highest death rate from stroke*. Families already living on the edge financially are plunged further into poverty due to poor health from poor diet.
All of these health conditions have multiple underlying causes, but poor dietary habits are high among the risk factors. The Kyrgyz diet is relatively high in fat with excessively oily foods (from seed oils), lots of simple carbohydrates, and not enough fresh vegetables and fruits. There is very little information about health and nutrition in the Kyrgyz language on YouTube.
Our partner's project manager wanted to get additional training or certification in nutrition. One of our partner's values is capacity building and development of staff, so they found a program for her. As a mother of five working almost full-time, she labored in her limited “free” time to make it through her academic program and she successfully graduated from a one-year, online nutrition coaching course offered through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York. She is now helping our community health education team produce quality video health lessons for the first time in the Kyrgyz language!