The solution is ... an iron fish!

Every so often, we need to be reminded that Operational Research is not simply about finding a solution to a problem, but that solution needs to be implemented.  So here is such a reminder.
Cambodian village women have high rates of anaemia due to lack of iron in their diets.  This leads to other health problems.  How can you persuade such women to add iron to their diet?  That is the problem ... not a specifically O.R. problem, but one of health management.
In the developed world, the answer would be iron tablets.  In Cambodia, they would be expensive and therefore impractical.  What about introducing iron into cooking water?  Used regularly, enough iron would come into the food to deal with the anaemia.  A little modelling showed the truth of this.  A good idea, but how to make sure that the women would accept the idea?  Here is the problem of implementation.  The solution was based on local traditions and concepts of luck.  So, the Canadian researcher Christopher Charles introduced iron ingots shaped like fish, a symbol of good luck.  And women have started to put these into the cooking water.  For the full story, see here.


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