|Nutrition, diet and lifestyle – scaling up action in the pacific|
|Friday, 23 April 2010 08:03|
A sub-regional meeting to review national plans of action on nutrition and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) was attended by delegates from six participating countries – Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, PNG, Tonga and Tokelau. Three delegates from different sectors in each country participated in the workshop, which was held in Nadi, Fiji, 23–27 February 2009. They helped identify key elements for successful implementation of national plans of action, and also shared technical knowledge and experience on best practices from the Pacific and beyond to strengthen implementation of plans.
The workshop was jointly organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), FAO, JICA, UNICEF, Fiji Ministry of Health and SPC’s LRD. Workshop sessions included overviews on food security, micronutrient deficiency, nutrition, food safety and NCDs. These were followed up by technical presentations on legislative intervention, food and nutrition policy, national dietary and physical activity guidelines, communication campaigns, advocacy, fortification, breastfeeding, and monitoring and evaluation.
Participants acknowledged that a workshop that brought several sectors together was very effective and that the concept should be continued to strengthen linkages between ministries of health, agriculture and education. Such meetings could also involve ministries of commerce, industry and trade, along with NGOs and the private sector to further support the scale-up of nutrition, diet and lifestyle interventions.
Food concerns – The meeting adopted a ‘GO LOCAL’ theme and promoted healthy traditional foods including their preparation. The benefits of organic products were also stressed.
Recognising the importance of food, nutrition and health, and the need to work together across sectors, participants welcomed the proposed Pacific food summit. Fiji requested support for organising its own national food summit in preparation for the regional summit.
Concern was expressed about the influx of food items of questionable quality, and the meeting recommended that countries work on setting standards for certification of food imports with support from regional organisations.
Delegates enjoyed the experience of having health profiling and apportioned lunches using local foods with caloric labelling and thought the trend should be encouraged at high-level meetings as it helped individuals make healthy choices.
Encouraging physical activity – The usefulness of pedometers in motivating individuals to boost physical activity and the value of community-based physical activity programmes were discussed. Countries were encouraged to consider requesting assistance from regional organisations on these issues.
Communication – Participants stressed the importance of effective communication and integrated marketing of healthy behavior and recommended that countries be assisted further with health promotion and social marketing of healthy behaviors to improve people’s nutrition and help prevent NCDs.
Follow-up action – Each country made a commitment to carry out planned action with support from WHO, FAO, SPC, UNICEF and JICA. These organisations have agreed to support countries both technically and financially in scaling up action on nutrition, diet and lifestyle according to the plans that were developed.
SPC’s LRD in partnership with JICA will support follow-up activities for Fiji in the areas of micronutrient supplementation, healthy boarding schools, and development of a nutrition action plan.