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International experts, researchers, practitioners and govt representatives address malnutrition crisis

Three-day international meet on double burden of malnutrition held under the auspices of Public Health Resource Network (PHRN), People’s Health Movement (PHM-Global), Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (PHM-India), World Public Health Nutrition Association (WPHNA), NarotamSekhsaria Foundation (NSF), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI)aims to raise and debate important issues that underlie high levels of malnutrition (both under-nutrition and over-nutrition), especially those related to changes in food systems

The three-day international conference on ‘Critical Public Health Consequences of the Double Burden of Malnutrition and the Changing Food Environment in South and South East Asia’ to be held at India International Centre, New Delhi, between March 28 to 30.Over 250participants, including policy makers, activists, practitioners, members of academia, researchers and media personnelfrom 13 countries, will share a common platform to raise and debate important issues that underlie these high levels of malnutrition. Participants will include policy makers, activists, academics and researchers, who have a significant role in shaping the food and nutrition policy landscape in South and South East Asia. The conference is also expected to enhance collaboration among professionals engaged in various sectors such as communicable and non-communicable diseases, nutrition, water and sanitation, dietetics, food sciences, agriculture, economics, environment, etc.

International-experts,-researchers

Undernutrition, as well as overnutrition, can be devastating to a nation’s overall health and productivity. Both the menaces are responsible for a high degree of morbidity and mortality from communicable diseases such as TB, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea associated with under-nutrition; and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, hypertension, cardiac disease and strokes, associated with obesity. In fact, the South East Asia region has the highest rate of mortality from NCDs among all WHO regions (62% of all mortality, affecting 8.5 million people) and the second highest (after the African region) for communicable diseases.

While countries in South and South East Asia have some of the highest levels of undernutrition, the region is also seeing a swift transition to a new situation termed as ‘double burden of malnutrition’ — whereby gains related to reduction in under-nutrition, are being undermined by an increase in overweight and obesity. This and several other issues related to nutrition will be discussed by eminent speakers and government officials from a host of countries including India, Brazil, Australia, UK, US, Thailand, Bangladesh, Italy, South Africa, Malaysia, Nepal, Mexico and Switzerland through workshops, plenary sessions, panel discussions, poster presentations and meetings.Seventy-two eminent people areattending the conference as experts. The keynote speakersincludeProf. Carlos Monteiro, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil,Ms. Fiorella Espinosa, El Poder del Consumidor, Mexico andDr. P Sainath, People’s Archive of Rural India, India, who are the keynote speakers. Dr. Vandana Prasad (National Convenor, Public Health Resource Network) is the Conference Convenor.

The conference aims to connect evidence regarding the prevalence of both under nutrition and ‘over-nutrition’, as well as the associations between nutrition and disease, policy and programme responses. It will look at catalysing civil society action to support community-based efforts to reshape the food and nutrition policy landscape. Through the meet, global and regional policy makers, academics, researchers, nutrition advocates and activists will gather on a common platform to support development and implementation of policies and programmes that promote better public health, nutrition and the control of communicable and non-communicable diseases.The conference is also expected to enhance collaboration among professionals engaged in various sectors such as communicable and non-communicable diseases, nutrition, water and sanitation, dietetics, food sciences, agriculture, economics, environment, etc.

The topics and themes to be discussed will include a wide range like Laws and policies relatedto nutrition,food systems, Land reform and access to land, agricultural policies, food production and processingand their impact,role and regulation of agribusiness, food andbeverages corporations and corporations whichpromote breastmilk substitutes and infant formula, current challenges and positive actions to address them, technical issues related to nutrition and disease consequences, strategizing around advocacy and social mobilization on issues related tomalnutrition and so on.

SaidDr. Vandana Prasad,National Convener, Public Health Resource Network,“We are in the throes of a pervasive food insecurity and undernutrition, and also at the brink of an obesity epidemic. Both have dire consequences upon health and need to be tackled head-on with urgency.”

Seconding the opinion, Leni Chaudhari, Vice President, NarotamSekhsaria Foundation said,“This conference is bringing together policy makers, activists, academics and researchers, who have a significant role in shaping the food and nutrition policy landscape in South and South East Asia. We will brainstorm and find ways to inform key policy makers and researchers of the latest evidence regarding the prevalence of both under nutrition and ‘over-nutrition’, as well as the associations between nutrition and disease, the drivers of these unacceptable levels of malnutrition and appropriate policy and programme responses.”

Dr.Arun Gupta, Regional Coordinator, International Baby Food Action Network – Asia, said, “This conference has at its core the aim of supporting effective development and implementation of policies and programmes that promote better public health, nutrition and the control of communicable and non-communicable diseases.”

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