Meeting: WHO guideline development group – nutrition actions

7-10 April 2014, Geneva, Switzerland, Salle D

Scope and purpose

In May 2012, the 65th World Health Assembly endorsed the comprehensive implementation plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition and urged Member States to put into practice, as appropriate, the comprehensive implementation plan on maternal, infant and young child nutrition1 by including proven nutrition interventions relevant to the country in maternal, child and adolescent health services, ensuring universal access.

Member States in turn requested WHO to support them in the monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes; in implementing policies and programmes aimed at improving nutritional outcomes; and in their efforts to develop, or where necessary strengthen and monitor the establishment of legislative, regulatory and other effective measures to control the marketing of breast-milk substitutes. WHO was also requested to update and expand their guidance and tools for cost-effective nutrition actions, highlighting good practices for disseminating the information and delivering interventions.

In response to this resolution and continuing its biennial work plan, the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD) continues to strengthen its role in providing evidence-informed policy and programme guidance to Member States, in collaboration with relevant internal partners and guided by the WHO guidelines development process. This normative mandate aims to strengthen the evidence base of effective and safe nutrition actions to counteract the public health effects of the double burden of malnutrition, and to describe good practices for successful implementation.

NHD established a WHO guideline development group – nutrition actions 2013-2014 guided by the WHO steering group for nutrition guidelines, which includes representatives from all departments in WHO with an interest in the provision of nutrition recommendations in stable and emergency settings. The WHO guideline development group – nutrition actions 2013-2014 includes experts from various WHO expert advisory panels and those identified through open calls for experts taking into consideration a balanced mix of genders, multiple disciplinary areas of expertise, and representation from all WHO Regions.

The WHO guideline development group – nutrition actions 2013-2014 continues to support WHO’s biennial programme of work on these areas and meets twice a year to advise WHO on the following:

  • The scope of the guidelines and priority questions for which systematic reviews of evidence will be commissioned.
  • The choice of important outcomes for decision-making and developing recommendations.
  • The interpretation of evidence with explicit consideration of the overall balance of risks and benefits.
  • The formulation of final drafting of recommendations, taking into account existing evidence as well as diverse values and preferences.

The main objectives of the WHO guideline development group – nutrition actions 2013-2014 for this meeting are to:

  • Discuss the evidence-informed recommendations for global guidelines on:
    • Fortification of food grade salt for the prevention and control of iodine deficiency disorders (standard guideline).
    • Point-of-use fortification with multiple micronutrient powders for nutrition and health outcomes in children and women (full guideline).
    • Daily iron supplementation for infants and children for improved health and development (full guideline).
    • Timing of cord clamping for improved iron status in infants (standard guideline).
  • Determine the strength of these recommendations, considering the balance of evidence for benefits and harms, and taking into account costs, values and preferences.
  • Agree on a ‘review by’ date for the discussed guidelines, considering on-going research and controversies.
  • Summarize the scope, questions, priority outcomes and methods for the development of updated guidelines for the promotion, protection and support of optimal breastfeeding practices and the use of lipid-based nutrient supplements in prevention and treatment of malnutrition in children and pregnant women.

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