Shared responsibility and convergence of interests to end micronutrient malnutrition

Micronutrient Forum Global Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  2-6 June 2014  Bridging Discovery and Delivery
Micronutrient Forum Global Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 2-6 June 2014 Bridging Discovery and Delivery ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 02 June, 2014 – The third Micronutrient Global Conference (June 2-6, 2014) has been discussing ways of overcoming micronutrient malnutrition. The forum, which brings together researchers, policy-makers, program implementers, and the private sector has been held under the theme of “Building Bridges”, thus emphasising scientific advances and multi-sectoral programming on adequate micronutrient intake.

Honorable Madam Roman Tesfaye,  First Lady of the  Federal Democratic  Republic of Ethiopia, welcomes participants of the Micronutrient Forum
Honorable Madam Roman Tesfaye, First Lady of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, welcomes participants of the Micronutrient Forum ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

Officially opening the conference, first lady of Ethiopia H.E. Roman Tesfaye announced: “Ethiopia is committed to sustainably addressing the challenges of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency.” During a successive speech delivered by the Ethiopia Minister of Health, Dr Kesetebirhan Admassu, it was highlighted how for a developing country like Ethiopia, investment in nutrition at an early stage of life brings a better return both in terms of human capital and economic development. That is why, according to Dr Kesete, Ethiopia has integrated a core nutrition intervention into its Health Extension Programme. The Minister also emphasised three key issues when addressing malnutrition and other health challenges: “integration, implementation at scale and community ownership.”

On behalf of the Health, Population and Nutrition donor group and the four UN agencies involved in Renewed Effort Against Child Hunger and Under nutrition (REACH) and Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) in Ethiopia, Dr Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia outlines four lessons that the global nutrition community can take from Ethiopia:

  • Integration of services for treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) into the national health system.
  • Multi-sectoral approach: linking key line ministries, the private sector, civil society and development partners.
  • Making sure that all decision makers understand that spending money on nutrition is one of the best investments in terms of human capital and economic growth.
  • Political will on implementation of nutrition programmes.

As the development community turns its attention to a post-2015 agenda, Dr Salama stressed that improving nutrition should become the quintessential Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

40 UNICEF colleagues from many countries around the world, regional offices and headquarters participated in the Micronutrient Forum, presented poster and gave oral presentations on program implementation, best practices, operations research and partnerships. UNCIEF also is member of the organising committee and funder.

UNICEF Ethiopia provided funding and had various abstracts presented at the forum in poster form or oral presentation. Several staff moderated sessions on food fortification, salt iodisation and the translation of global guidelines into policy and programmers. At a get together of all UNICEF staff, the colleagues shared observations about the forum’s contributions to their work and inter-country exchanges were set up. The Ethiopia sat down with the India country team and identified areas for exchange and support. This will continue after the forum ends.

A child getting a Vitamin A supplementation in Tergol town.
A child getting a Vitamin A supplementation in Tergol town. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Bizuwerk

Micronutrient malnutrition, also referred to as “the hidden hunger” is a widespread problem in the world mainly affecting developing nations. According to WHO, micronutrient deficiency results in a poor pregnancy outcome, impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity in children and reduced work productivity in adults. Globally, one third of children under-5 are vitamin A deficient. It is also estimated that more than 40 per cent of pregnant women and children under-5 are anemic, while one in four children under-5 years old (more than 160 million children worldwide) are also stunted.

The third Micronutrient Global Conference looks into the challenges and opportunities for scaling up evidence-based policies and programmes from diverse sectors while discussing the effectiveness of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions to improve micronutrient intake and status. The conference also debates on evidence and methods for measuring micronutrient deficiencies, excesses and coverage, with implications for policies and programmes.

More on a successful nutrition-specific programme from Ethiopia

A Day in the Life of a Well-fed Child: Ethiopia

 

Innovative One WASH for Sustainable Development: Ethiopia

On the 4th and 5th of February, 2014 the Ethiopia Water and Sanitation (WASH) met at the Ghion Hotel, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 6th Annual Multi-Stakeholder Forum with the theme of “Innovative One WASH for Sustainable Development”. It was a huge event with about 500 participants from Government, NGO, private and donor sectors.

Excellency Federal Minister of Water Irrigation and Energy, Ato Alemayhu Tegene
Excellency Federal Minister of Water Irrigation and Energy, Ato Alemayhu Tegene

The event was graced by the presence of  Excellency Federal Minister of Water Irrigation and Energy, Ato Alemayhu Tegene, Excellency State Minister of Water Irrigation and Energy, Ato Kebede Gerba, Excellency State Minister of Education, Ato Fuad Ibrahim and Excellency State Minister of Health, Dr. Kebede Worku.

Among the many discussions the ONE WASH Sector Wide Approach dominated the discussion. The participants agreed more focus is needed on urban WASH and sustainability monitoring and UNICEF and WHO need to provide a measurement of where the country is pre 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

During his keynote speech, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia and DAG WASH Sector Working Group co-chair, Dr. Peter Salama made three points that are crucial to fulfil the remaining commitments to improve access to safe water and sanitation. And one of his points read “we need to reinforce our efforts in addressing open defecation in urban areas.”

Miniters visit exhibition at the sixth One WASH Multi-Sector Forum“The Government of Ethiopia has pledged to the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) to achieve 82 per cent open defecation free Ethiopia by 2015. This ambitious goal requires the sector to devise and implement a comprehensive Urban Sanitation Strategy which provides clear guidance on the minimum package for urban sanitation including faecal, liquid and solid waste management and disposal. UNICEF, DFID, JICA and other partners are committed to support the Government in prioritizing urban sanitation. As noted in the ONE WASH programme document, to improve WASH services in small towns, for example, will require an additional US$96 million for sanitation in the coming 5 years. We call upon all partners to join hands with us on this game changing strategy to make Ethiopia open defection free.”