A hearty conversation with nutrition specialist Pradhumna Dahal

You literally needed visas from the then maoist rebels to enter beyond the two kilometers radius of the district headquarters. The visa acquisition information in any condition whatsoever was not to be revealed to the government forces. This was during the peak point of Nepal’s civil war. I was stationed at Jumla.” started PradhumnaDahal sharing his experiences of the war stricken province.

Dahal who was employed at World Vision prior to being recruited as a nutrition specialist at UNICEF continued, “We were advised not to engage ourselves in three acts: not to do anything associated with food – it would eventually go out to the rebels.” He explained, “We had 560 metric tons of rice which had to be distributed to the locals. The food was distributed under the heading ‘food for work’. We would drop off the ration in the army’s brigade then transport them to villages on mules. Second, we were advised to stay clear from health care and medicines. Despite the warnings, me and my medical team worked against all odds seeing the inadequacy of health care facilities and health workers in the area. We went around on donkeys. And finally, we were not advised to work for enterprise development but we did. However, the experience was not as smooth as we’d expected it to be. We escaped near abductions, ran for days to save our lives. Thinking of the past, I don’t reckon I would be able to relive the same life now.”

Dahal gave a brief account of his hardship at Jumla before being bestowed with the responsibilities at UNICEF as a nutrition specialist. At UNICEF, he explained, his role was to keep women and children from being malnourished. Malnutrition, which has been stated amongst the main reasons behind economic downfall, is being prioritized by Dahal and his team to be decreased to the least. Well nourished populace not only bring about health benefits but also provide financial boost. It was declared in Copenhagen in 2012 by a mass of Nobel Laureates in economics that investment in nutrition result to highest productivity. In the conference organized by world class investors, the participating economists came to a conclusion that an investment of $1 would result in a return of up to $138.

Investment on children and expecting mothers would eventually give better result as scientist believe that 80 percent of brain development process of any individual takes place from inside the mother’s womb and continues to the age of two. After the particular time frame, the process is relatively slower.

Giving background of the brain development process, Dahal shared, “You might have heard the phrase 1000 days in different media. This is a concept promoted by the UNICEF. It started globally approximately 10 years back. This suggests, it’s not only after birth that the baby needs care and nutrition. Also, the age of the mother also has a role of its own.” Sharing the bitter truth of Nepal’s rural provinces, Dahal continued, “You can still find over 60% marriages happening before the age of 18 (resulting in early pregnancy). When first pregnancy occurs during adolescence, there are two growing bodies fighting for nutrition – first of the mother and second of the baby in her womb. It is obvious that the stronger force or the mother wins the nutrition battle. So, you see malnourished babies being given birth to. The concept of 1000 days states the need of nutrition and its lifecycle distribution. It also states the role of the provider, the male or the husband, who has to stimulate an enabling environment.”

Hami Bhatey!

List out what you ate throughout the day and everyone’s obvious result would have bhhat spilling all over. However, rice is not a local produce at the hilly regions which dominates Nepal’s topographic division. The more feasible growth of the region is subsided by rice which is considered to exhibit excellence and a sense of superiority. Due to false demand created, rice has now topped the charts of every Nepali’s diet plan.

However, the health benefit and nutritional value of rice is lesser than those of all local products. Paddy, wheat, barley and other crops which grow in abundance are perceived as infererior harvest. These crops which have higher nutrition values are thus being either fed to cattles or fermented for alcohol production.

Emphasizing the agricultural production quality of Nepal, Dahal stated, “As astonishing as it may sound, Nepal has diverse climate and soil property enabling production of all kinds of crops and fruits possible. For instance, kiwi, a native to New Zealand was not grown anywhere but in its inherent habitat. But as of lately, the same fruit is being produced in different parts of Nepal and the quality and all major characteristics tally.” He also added, “Nepal’s topographical situation enables us to produce a diverse range of products, yet we opt for rice. ”

Sharing more of his personal experiences at the rural parts of Nepal, he added, “You get looked at with disgust if you ask for dhido or roasted corn in rural parts of Nepal. They feel as if like you’re trying to make fun of their their poverty. If you ask me, Nepal will never face hunger epidemic but our mindset is sure to lead us to ‘bhhatmari’ in
the future.”

No formulae baby

Nutrition for breastfed babies

Babies absorb a little nutrition from sun exposure while most of the nutrition comes directly from breastfed milk. It’s been stated almost everywhere that nothing can beat the thriving qualities of breast milk from mothers. Breast milk being rich with vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrate, and fat that infants need for all round development are consumed directly through nutrient-rich diet mothers consume.

Babies too require a healthy dose of vitamin D which is generated from sunlight touching the skin rather than from food sources. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics has come up with evidences that breastfed infants receive 200 IU of oral vitamin D drops on a daily basis beginning during the first two months of life. This recommendation can help prevent the risk of sunburn and skin cancer from sun exposure.


PradhumnaDahal showed his discontent towards today’s disoriented youths who have their heeds set on flying abroad for work or permanent residency purposes. However, he too revealed the fact that the satisfaction he gets from him job is what has been holding his from traveling abroad to work. Dahal, who was an outstanding scholar; post Bachelors’ degree started botany which he said never gave him the ultimate satisfaction. Furthermore, he also explained that he did not see personal and career growth as a botanist. This led him to traveling to Dharan to pursue nutrition related course which eventually helped him to build up career in the same field.

His message to the youths was to choose a path which ends with satisfaction. He said, “If you work for an organization which lacks personal satisfaction, it’s high time you changed jobs or the organization at least. Lack of satisfaction compresses your overall growth and brings in mental stresses.”

Add new comment

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)