Nutrition

Developing effective food and nutrition policies and programmes

The challenge

Eliminating hunger and malnutrition is technically feasible. The means are there. The challenge lies in generating the requisite political will, developing realistic policies and taking concerted actions nationally and internationally.

During the last decade, there has been a number of attempts to set specific goals and targets for eliminating or reducing various kinds of food and nutrition insecurity and all the major forms of malnutrition. However, progress towards these targets has been lagging far behind of what was intended and a continuation of present trends would leave millions of people undernourished and suffering from all the major forms of malnutrition in the next millennium.

The response

Building on a series of global conferences in the 1990s – especially the 1992 International Conference on Nutrition and the 1996 World Food Summit – countries have developed national nutrition plans and policies in nine major strategic action areas that:

  • mainstream nutrition goals into development policies and programmes,
  • improve household food and nutrition security,
  • protect consumers through improved food quality and safety,
  • prevent and manage infectious diseases,
  • promote breastfeeding,
  • care for the socioeconomically deprived and nutritionally vulnerable,
  • prevent and control specific micronutrient deficiencies,
  • promote appropriate diets and healthy lifestyles, and
  • assess, analyse and monitor nutrition situations.

As evidence of the higher priority that governments are giving to nutrition, as of July 2000, 149 (78%) of WHO’s Member States had given effect to their commitments while another 17 (9%) had plans and policies under preparation.

Through this globe-spanning initiative, WHO is providing technical and financial support for the development and implementation of national policies and programmes that effectively address food and nutrition problems that are influenced by rapid change in today’s world and successfully meet tomorrow’s nutrition challenge.


Improving household food and nutrition security for the vulnerable: A WHO multi-country study

WHO sees household food and nutrition security as a basic human right. Since 1995, NHD has been undertaking a multi-country study in China, Egypt, Indonesia, Ghana, Myanmar and South Africa. Bringing together experts from fields as diverse as nutrition, anthropology, sociology, psychology, agricultural economics, economic geography, communication and education, this study is examining malnutrition’s main causal factors. On this basis, guiding principles will be prepared for protecting the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable and enhancing understanding of women’s productive, reproductive, nurturing, educational and economic roles.


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