Progress is Palpable in the Fight Against Malnutrition

Experts engage in a discussion on effectively tackling acute malnutrition
An Action Against Hunger field worker tests a Nepalese boy for malnutrition. Photo: ACF-Nepal, S. Remael

Last month, in collaboration with UNICEF, Action Against Hunger organized an exciting panel discussion Reinforcing Momentum to End Acute Malnutrition. Part of a global series of events during the UN General Assembly period that raised the profile of nutrition with global leaders, this panel explored how to effectively and sustainably tackle acute malnutrition. The panel, moderated by Matt Aubry, Action Against Hunger’s External Relations Director, drew in over 70 participants, fundamental in the fight against acute malnutrition. Panelists included: 

  • Laura Caulfield, Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Félicité Tchibindat, UNICEF, West and Central Africa Regional Nutrition Advisor
  • Saul Guerrero, Head of Technical Development at Action Against Hunger-UK
  • Melrose Tucker, Health and Nutrition Program Manager at Focus 1000, a nutrition and health focused organization in Sierra Leone
The event ended with a reception, which offered an informal space for discussion between nutrition specialists from around the world. During the reception, Paul Rochon, Canada’s Deputy Minister of International Development, emphasized the Government of Canada’s commitment to nutrition and stressed the importance of integrated solutions and strong partnerships. UNICEF Chief of Nutrition Werner Schultink also highlighted opportunities for increased cooperation between nutrition partners.
Panelists drew attention to some of the progress to date on nutrition and considered where the nutrition community needs to strengthen our current approach.  

What we are doing right

In her introduction to the panel, Laura Caulfield was optimistic, and highlighted that progress in the fight against malnutrition is palpable. 
Many factors contribute to this progress. For example, Félicité Tchibindat explained that improved protocols, training programs, and monitoring and reporting tools are becoming available, which are essential to help us reach more people in need more effectively.
Furthermore, international NGOs are increasingly providing technical assistance to governments and local NGOs who are implementing projects, promoting community empowerment.
Perhaps most importantly, a deeper understanding of nutrition has been achieved. As Melrose Tucker noted, malnutrition has the ability to impede the development of entire communities. Since malnutrition can affect everyone, all partners must commit to being key players in its prevention and treatment.   
Since malnutrition can affect everyone, all partners must commit to being key players in its prevention and treatment.  
More progress to be made

Since partnerships are such an important part of our success, it is critical that organizations working in nutrition need to first improve communication and partnerships. While many NGOs have specialized expertise, eliminating acute malnutrition will require a holistic approach involving partners from the local to global scale to address each part of the complex issue of nutrition.
Melrose Tucker highlighted that, in particular, a partnership between the nutrition and health sectors is key to ensure that the links between malnutrition prevention and treatment are strengthened:  
“The nutrition and health sectors must work together, as malnutrition is a vicious cycle.”
Melrose Tucker, Health and Nutrition Program Manager at Focus 1000
 Organizations need to identify and apply best practices in prevention and treatment, Saul Guerrero noted. He further emphasized that we need to first start small, allowing space to test, learn, and—most importantly—understand the different contexts in which we work.
Your support helps make events like this possible, and also helps us increase the impact of our field work through improved methods and partnerships highlighted at this discussion. Thank you for your dedication to improving nutrition worldwide!

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About Camille Guyot-Bender

Camille Guyot-Bender

Camille Guyot-Bender works in the Operations Department supporting each of ACF's technical sectors: Food Security and Livelihoods, Nutrition, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, and Advocacy.

Tags: UNICEF , Nutrition