The Public Health Nursing Series is a 20-blog collection, written by William (Billy) Rosa, author of the forthcoming title, Nurses as Leaders: Evolutionary Visions of Leadership (June 2016), that sparks a dialogue about each and every nurse's role in advancing and creating the future of global health. With a focus on cultural considerations and the current status of healthcare in nations worldwide, nurses will learn how they are called to contribute to each of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals, an international initiative that seeks to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all over the next 15 years.This series makes the case that every nurse, regardless of title, position, or credential, is a public health leader.

          Sustainable Development Goal #2: Zero Hunger (Part 5)

You read the title correctly – zero hunger. This Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is directly related to a culture of safety. The need for safe, quality development and practices in nutrition and agricultural/food supply well-being has never been more crucial to global disease prevention. More specifically, SDG # 2 seeks to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” over the next fourteen years (Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform [SDKP], 2016). To summarize, it is striving to do the following by 2030:

  • End hunger and ensure access by all people to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food year round
  • End all forms of malnutrition
  • Double agricultural productivity and the incomes of small-scale food producers
  • Ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters, and that progressively improve land and soil quality
  • Maintain genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants, farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species
  • Enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries
  • Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets

Why is this goal so important in the modern health scenario? According to United Nations Sustainable Development (UNSD; 2016), roughly 795 million people worldwide (1 in 9 people) are undernourished, poor nutrition causes 45% of deaths in children under the age of 5 each year (3.1 million children per year), and 66 million children are sent to school hungry each day. Furthermore, agriculture provides income and sustenance for up to 40% of the world’s population, up to 1.4 billion are at risk for energy poverty (no electricity access), and the global number of hungry people could be reduced by nearly 150 million if women farmers had the same resources as men (UNSD, 2016). In a culture of safety, public health nurse leaders must partner with organizations that look to mitigate hunger, promote gender equality in food production and agriculture through social justice initiatives, and educate themselves about the integrity of the food supply.

Supporting organizations that have a hand in realizing SDG #2 is an essential component of health promotion and advocacy. Stop Hunger Now (2016) looks to end world hunger by meal packaging for the most vulnerable populations; The Hunger Project (n.d.) partners with inter/national governing bodies to promote self-reliance in helping men and women end their own hunger; global humanitarian organizations, such as Action Against Hunger/ACF International (2015), seek to battle the hunger pandemic by preventing, detecting, and treating malnutrition; and Heifer International (n.d.) empowers individuals by donating livestock or funding programs that donate livestock. By educating ourselves about these initiatives and the varied worldwide assistance available, public health nurse leaders can refer clients to appropriate services that meet their needs and economic criteria.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO; 2009, 2013) confirm that while women make up the majority of the world’s rural poor and are primarily charged with meeting the nutritional needs of families and children, they face far more legal and socioeconomic constraints in land ownership and agricultural rights than men. Public health nurse leaders have access to country profiles, gender and land-related statistics, and gender-equitable land tenure with the legal assessment tool (LAT) through the Gender and Land Rights Database (GLRD; FAO, 2016). Additionally, The World Bank (2009) provides references such as the Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook to help technicians and organizations more effectively implement gender-sensitive responses in the creation and implementation of agricultural initiatives. Using these references, public health nurses are able to identify disparities and coach clients and populations to advocate for needed change and equity initiatives. Social justice and gender equality are clear and present priorities for all nurses, advocates, and leaders striving to overcome the barriers to humane healthcare and quality of life for all (Nickitas, 2016).

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS; 2010) has shown that chemicals in many everyday products, including the food supply, may interfere with the endocrine system. These “endocrine disruptors” may play a role in improper hormone function, obesity, diabetes, and some cancers (NIEHS, 2010). Another threat to the integrity of the food supply is the use of pesticides; an imposing danger to public health worldwide. In fact, “There is probably no environmental health topic for which there is a greater level of citizen concern than exposure to pesticides” (Butterfield & Butterfield, 2003). Through the proper assessment of clients and populations, the food choices they make, and they environmental exposure they experience, public health nurses can make great impact in the life of clients and communities at large by making the connections between food supply and health outcomes.

Our myriad roles and responsibilities in realizing SDG #2 require that we must have an increased knowledge of environmental health issues that impact food and agricultural practices, and use our skills in education, advocacy, empowerment, and coaching in order to promote wellness and well-being for all (Luck, 2016). We are each called to procure a culture of safety that prevents malnutrition, ensures equality, preserves the global food supply, and seeks to empower each of us as stewards of exemplary public health. SDG #2 assists us in expanding our global impact, understanding the importance of international resources, and partnering with like-minded organizations invested in the goal of “zero hunger” by 2030.

References

Action Against Hunger/ACF International. (2015). Home. Retrieved from       http://www.actionagainsthunger.org

Butterfield, P. & Butterfield, P. (2003). Pesticide exposure. In B. Sattler & J. Lipscomb (Eds.), Environmental health and nursing practice (pp. 181-215). New York, NY: Springer.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). (2009). Bridging the gap: FAO’s programme for gender equality in agriculture and rural development. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/a-i1243e.pdf

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). (2013). FAO Policy on Gender   Equality: Attaining food security goals in agriculture and rural development. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i3205e/i3205e.pdf

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). (2016). Gender and Land Rights Database. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/gender-landrights-database/en/

Heifer International. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from http://www.heifer.org

Luck, S. (2016). Informed and impactful: Stewarding the environmental determinants of health and well-being. In W. Rosa (Ed.), Nurses as leaders: Evolutionary visions of leadership. New York, NY: Springer, in press.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). (2010). Endocrine disruptors. Retrieved from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/endocrine_disruptors_508.pdf

Nickitas, D.M. (2016). Ethical and economical: Calling the profession to social justice. In W. Rosa (Ed.), Nurses as leaders: Evolutionary visions of leadership. New York, NY: Springer, in press.

Stop Hunger Now. (2016). Home. Retrieved from http://www.stophungernow.org

Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform (SDKP). (2016). Goal 2. Retrieved from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?page=view&nr=164&type=230&menu=2059

The Hunger Project (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from http://www.thp.org

The World Bank. (2009). Gender in agriculture sourcebook. Retrieved from http://www-    wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2008/10/21/00033303       7_20081021011611/Rendered/PDF/461620PUB0Box3101OFFICIAL0USE0ONLY1.pdf

United Nations Sustainable Development (UNSD). (2016). Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/hunger/

More About the Author

William (Billy) Rosa, MS, RN, LMT, AHN-BC, AGPCNP-BC, CCRN-CMC, is currently Visiting Faculty, University of Rwanda and ICU Clinical Educator, Rwanda Military Hospital, Human Resources for Health Program in partnership with the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing. He currently has over 65 publications for refereed and non-refereed journals, newspapers, magazines, and national platform blogs and his book, Nurses as Leaders: Evolutionary Visions of Leadership, will be released by Springer in June 2016. Billy currently sits on the US Advisory Board for the Nightingale Initiative for Global Health, and most recently received the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses' 2015 National Circle of Excellence Award and the Association for Nursing Professional Development's 2015 National Change Agent/Team Member Award.

Quick Links

Part 1: Understanding the Nurse as a Public Health Leader

Part 6: Sustainable Development Goal #3 - Good Health and Well-being