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Nutrition advice just a click away

By: - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ
/ 06:56 AM August 12, 2011

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka—A wealth of science-based advice is just one click away for Asian countries, including the Philippines, facing what health experts describe as the “double burden” of malnutrition.

The World Health Organization (WHO) launched the e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA) here on Wednesday, the first day of the biregional Meeting on Scaling Up Nutrition attended by health experts and policymakers from the Asia-Pacific region.

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The portal was created to provide countries looking for solutions to undernutrition and obesity with “state-of-the-art” guidance and evidence-based information, said Dr. Francesco Branca, the director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development in Geneva.

“This is a tool for governments to make choices and make priorities in nutrition,” said Branca at a press briefing that followed the launch.

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He noted that with the shortage of resources, governments need only to concentrate on interventions that have clearly been proven effective.

At the three-day meeting, WHO officials sounded the alarm over the millions of children dying or falling ill from either undernutrition or obesity.

Malnutrition accounts for 11 percent of the global burden of disease, leading to long-term poor health and disability. In Asia alone, roughly 71 million children have been estimated to be underweight.

In the Philippines, 3.35 million children below 5 years old were found to be underweight and 2.6 million children from 6 to 10 years old suffered the same condition in 2008.

At least 18 million people were listed as overweight in 2010, a huge jump from 14 million 10 years ago, WHO records showed.

Malnutrition remains a chief public health setback across the world, according to the WHO.

The WHO said this was because “many interventions are either not implemented when they are needed, or they fail to reach a significant portion of the target population.”

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But with the launching of eLENA, countries troubled by malnutrition can easily access into nutrition guidelines and recommendations, among others, that would help them make the appropriate choices to tackle nutrition problems, said Branca.

“To create eLENA, we have sifted through thousands of pages of scientific evidence and advice to prioritize, justify and better present the kinds of nutrition actions needed to prevent people succumbing to the many forms of malnutrition,” he said.

The online nutrition initiative presents the latest advice on tackling the three main forms of malnutrition: undernutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiency, and overweight and obesity.

Branca said the online portal would help health officials and policymakers make out the actions that can be undertaken and interventions that should be avoided to cope with the health threats posed by malnutrition.

TOPICS: biregional Meeting on Scaling Up Nutrition, Colombo, e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA), malnutrition, Nutrition, science-based advice, Sri Lanka, World Health Organization (WHO)
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