Cuba, with a population of a little over 11 million people, imports about 80% of its domestic food requirements. A number of measures are being taken to increase food production, chief among which is the allocation of fallow land to private individuals and groups, as well as the reduction of the amount of land devoted to sugar cane cultivation, but the country’s vulnerability to hurricanes and droughts, coupled with the increase in global food prices and the financial crisis, makes the path to national food security difficult.
The eastern region of Cuba – encompassing the provinces of Guantánamo, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, Las Tunas, Holguín, and Camagüey — is the most vulnerable to food insecurity.
Cuba’s education and health system are admirable and have put the country well on the path to achievement of four of the eight MDGs. The main public health problem is anaemia, with a prevalence in the east of 56,7% among children under the age of 24 months and 20,1% amongst those between the ages of 2 and 5.
There are a number of reasons for this, the main ones being: i) inadequate food intake; ii) parasitic or infectious diseases; iii) dearth of iron-rich food; iv) difficulties in access to food; v) insufficient knowledge of anemia; vi) inadequate use of dietary supplements; vii) deficiencies in water and sanitation; y viii) inadequate hygiene practices, which inhibits iron absorption.