Nepal Holds National Seminar on Nutrition; Commits to Nutrition Goals

Nepal National Nutrition Seminar participants draft commitment to nutrition

The Child Health Division of Nepal’s Ministry of Health (MOH) organized a national seminar on nutrition in January. Mr. Tara Man Gurung, State Minister, inaugurated the seminar. Approximately 400 people attended, including district health officers, officials from the Department of Food, Technology and Quality Control and nutrition focal persons representing all 75 districts, as well as representatives from donor agencies, UNICEF, World Food Program and international/national NGOs.

The Honorable Chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Women, Children, Senior Citizens and Social Welfare and a National Planning Commission member delivered speeches, and Nepali nutrition experts provided interesting and thought provoking presentations.

Atul Upadhyay, of ARCH Nepal, shared ARCH research findings and highlighted the importance of ARCH follow-on activities during the seminar. Upadhyay drew attention to the World Health Assembly 2016 Guidance on Ending Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infant and Young Children. He also described Nepal’s efforts to ensure that milks designed for older infants and young children, which include follow-up formulas and growing up milks, are treated as breastmilk substitutes (BMS) under Codex Standards.  He described the situation in Nepal and the government’s decision to hire and deploy BMS monitors to support adherence to Nepal’s law implementing the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.  Monitors will also ensure breastfeeding support guidelines are followed, training manuals are used and counselling cards are prepared based on the research findings.  Finally, Upadhyay described a new study ARCH is conducting to assess the association between consumption of commercial snack foods and nutritional status during the complementary feeding period, and investigate the factors associated with consumption of these products among young children.  For more about ARCH research on snack food consumption, see “U.N. expert says unhealthy snack foods and beverages are a human rights concern.”

The seminar participants formulated a 10-Point-Commitment which supports the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and encourages providing quality nutrition services at the district level. The resolution emphasized the importance of the country’s Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan, with a promise of prompt support from the Ministry of Health. The declaration included establishing a National Nutrition Centre, deploying nutrition officers in each district and creating a separate nutrition allocation in the national budget. The commitment will become legally binding when it’s endorsed by the cabinet.

Note: In addition to Atul Upadhyay, the panel participants in the photo above include:

Mr. Pradiumna Dahal: UNICEF
Prof Dr Madhu Devkota: Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University
Prof Dr Ramesh Kant Adhikari: Kathmandu Medical College (HOD: Paed department)
Ms Pooja Pandey Rana: USAID Suaahara II
Dr. Shivani Gosh: Tufts University
Mr. Biswa Raman Neupane: USAID Suaahara II
Mr. Stanely Chitekwe: UNICEF