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Expert Views: Nutrition Advocates Set Their Priorities

Members of Malnutrition Deeply’s expert community weigh in on how they can leverage local and regional networks to advance the nutrition agenda.

Written by Andrew Green Published on Read time Approx. 2 minutes
In El Salvador, one Nutrition Champion is pushing civil society groups to encourage people to adopt a healthier diet, including more fruits and vegetables. Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty Images

Some of the world’s leading advocates of improved nutrition share a goal for 2018: pushing local and regional networks to take the lead on the response to malnutrition.

With international support for nutrition efforts increasingly unreliable, several of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement’s 2017 Nutrition Champion award winners say they are working to develop or strengthen local initiatives. Growing the communities of local nutrition advocates, they say, would make it easier to push for more funding and better policies at a national level.

The winners are part of a larger global community of leaders advocating increased political attention on improving nutrition. SUN asked them to share how they are planning to improve nutrition in 2018. We include some of their responses in our Expert Views series.

Osmonbek Artykbaev, member of parliament from the Kyrgyz Republic

As members of parliament, we are also members of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, which unites us as like-minded people. Through this platform, I plan to promote nutrition issues and push for the creation of an environment that is supportive of effective nutrition policies and which encourages interaction on a regional level, especially among neighboring countries.

Ana Josefa Blanco Noyola, executive director of CALMA, a Salvadoran support center for breastfeeding

The government of El Salvador is implementing strategic actions that have brought about significant progress in the population’s health and nutrition; however, the problem of malnutrition persists, with limited access to food in some municipalities and malnutrition caused by both deficit and excess. It is therefore crucial to maintain advocacy and lobbying efforts around this issue to obtain better funding for nutrition.

Another priority issue is to ensure constant coordination with the SUN focal point in the country, in order to promote the coordinated efforts of Salvadoran civil society, and seek allies with whom to strengthen local-level information, education and communication strategies aimed at promoting healthy eating habits.

Yves Fernand Manfoumbi, Gabon’s minister of agriculture

My plan is to create a General Directorate for Food and Nutrition Security responsible for implementing an agricultural approach that is sensitive to nutrition, as well as specific interventions. This will also focus on strong advocacy as well as the creation of national nutrition ambassadors and the inauguration of a national nutrition day, linked to World Food Day.

As president of the Council of Ministers of Agriculture of the [Economic Community of Central African States], I am recommending the launch of a campaign to verify and popularize farming techniques for a climate-smart agriculture, with seeds and varieties of a quality and quantity that will ensure healthy and nutrient-rich foods, which will result in statistical data on the prevalence of food insecurity and malnutrition.

Dr. Geeta Bhakta Joshi, member of Nepal’s National Planning Commission

As Nepal is moving toward federal restructuring and devolution, one of the priorities is to institutionalize [and] sustain all the achievements made so far. There is a need to scale up the Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan II throughout the country, to achieve the World Health Assembly targets 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, so that malnutrition is no longer a public health problem in Nepal.

Over the years, we have realized there is a lack of nutrition budget code in Nepal. Therefore, to develop a separate nutrition budget code within the system is a priority for the next year. Considering nutrition as a sector and a joint annual review of the nutrition sector is also among our priorities. At a regional level we need to further strengthen cross-learning and collaboration in nutrition through South-to-South and regional collaboration in South Asia.

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