Lucky fish swarm against anaemia

April 13, 2013

Iron-deficiency anaemia (IDA) is one of the health issues faced by over 3.5 million people in Cambodia. The disease leading to birth defects and impaired brain development has a lasting impact on lives. However, Chris Charles, a graduate student at the University of Guelph  in Canada, has come up with a novel solution. In an attempt to address IDA amongst rural women in the region, he applied findings of the studies conducted in the past, which showed that using iron pots in daily cooking actually ameliorated IDA.
In a trial conducted in the village of Preak Ruessei, Kandal Province, Cambodia, Charles tried to persuade villagers to stir chunks of iron in their cooking pots. Coming up against resistance to the idea, he then suggested forming the iron into local fish shapes – something considered to be a symbol of luck in the area.
Charles commented “We designed it about 3 or 4 inches long, small enough to be stirred easily but large enough to provide up to about 75 per cent of the daily iron requirement”. A local scrap metal worker began producing the fish for $1.50 each providing him with a source of business and the project was underway. The results were impressive with women reporting that they no longer suffered from dizziness and had fewer headaches. Turns out the (iron) fish were lucky after all!

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Caroline Weimann
Caroline Weimann

Caroline Weimann is member of the “empowering people. Award” team at the Siemens Stiftung (foundation). She studied International Law, Economics and Diplomacy at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London as well as Languages and Literature at the University of Oxford. Before joining the Siemens Stiftung, she worked on health and development issues at the European Commission and at a consultancy firm for non-profit organizations.


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