Empowering Rural Doctors Through Digital Nutrition Education

Hunger is not a one-size-fits-all problem. Hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition are driven by complex factors that vary from country to country and from rural to urban areas.

According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, people living in rural areas generally have less access to healthcare than their urban counterparts. There tend to be fewer medical practitioners, health programs, and healthcare facilities in rural areas, which directly impacts the wellbeing of its inhabitants.

This issue is of particular relevance in China, where according to the World Bank, 40 percent of the population lives in rural areas.

Nutrition and Health Challenges Facing Rural China

While China has made remarkable progress in poverty reduction and social development, malnutrition still exists – especially in rural areas – due to income disparities and gaps in access to nutritious food.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), some of the challenges facing health and development in rural China are:

  1. Scarcity and poor condition of community health service centers.
  2. Lack of basic equipment and skilled doctors.
  3. Shortages and unbalanced allocation of health resources.

These challenges have direct consequences for nutrition. According to the World Food Programme, China has a rate of 9.4 percent for stunting, 19.6 percent for anemia, and 25 percent for overweight, representing a significant national problem.

Addressing this issue requires resources, coordination, and programs that have a direct impact on these rural communities. This is why, as part of our Nutrition for Zero Hunger (NFZH) global initiative to eradicate hunger and provide nutrition education and resources, Herbalife Nutrition partnered with the Chinese Red Cross Foundation (CRCF) to launch the Rural Doctors Online Training program.

CRCF Herbalife Nutrition Partnership

Investing in Rural Medical Training Supports the Zero Hunger Goal

The goal of the Rural Doctors Online Training Program is to provide free online training courses for 1,500 rural doctors in poverty-stricken areas to sharpen skills and enhance expertise to improve medical and health services, as well as accelerate the development of the rural public health system.

Developed by experts from the Chinese Medical Association, the program – which is an extension of the rural doctor training program launched by CRCF in 2006 – provides:

Harnessing Digital Technology for Grass-Roots Level Medical Capacity Building

The Rural Doctors Online Training Program is leveraging ever-changing digital network technology to create easily replicable online training programs ­– making nutrition education accessible to all.

Training rural doctors on nutrition education is an effort that has a potentially exponential impact to overcome hunger and malnutrition. One doctor who has acquired solid, expert information on general nutrition and healthy food choices, can in turn pass that knowledge to the whole village and start modifying collective nutrition habits. In rural areas, the reduction of hunger can be achieved in part by making informed decisions that can only come through health education that can help change people’s health decisions and behavior.

Herbalife at China CSR Summit
Ruiping speaks at China’s Corporate Social Responsibility Summit, discussing our CSR efforts, including Nutrition for Zero Hunger and the Rural Doctors Online Training program.

The positive impact of this program is already being recognized. We recently participated in China’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Summit 2020, hosted by the China Business Journal, where the Rural Doctors Online Training Program received the “Annual CSR Initiative 2020” award.

We intend to reach more medical organizations at the grass-roots level and help train more rural medical workers, which we believe will ultimately improve public health. According to the Healthy China 2030 guidelines, empowering medical organizations at the grass-root level is crucial to help rural residents break the poverty cycle.

CRCF and Herbalife Nutrition

The ongoing collaboration with our nonprofit partners emphasizes our commitment to end hunger through alignment around nutrition capacity building, education, and training needs, and opportunities to mobilize our global community.