Nutrition Coordination Mechanism under review by stakeholders
DPI, Guyana, Friday, March 23, 2018
Stakeholders met on Friday, March 23, in the boardroom of the National Centre for Education and Resource Development (NCERD) in Kingston to discuss the establishment of a Nutrition Coordination Mechanism for Guyana. This mechanism is one that focuses on multi-sectoral collaboration for overall health and nutrition of the Guyanese population.
It reaches out to various sectors such as Education and Agriculture, among others with international agencies such as the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), all working together with the Ministry of Public Health to achieve food safety and security while promoting healthy eating at all ages.
The purpose of the meeting was for stakeholders to have an orientation of the national needs regarding the establishment of the Nutrition Coordination Mechanism which must include nutrition in emergencies as part of its mandate.
Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings indicated that the ministry is aware of the need to have a coordinated approach to nutrition in Guyana, involving multi-disciplinary, inter-sectoral actors all working together towards a common goal.
She said there are policies in place to strategically address nutrition at the national level and other sectors, and organisations are engaged in various strategic and significant aspects of nutrition in Guyana.
“Therefore, this forum is most timely as it seeks to engage stakeholders involved in nutrition to craft and establish Nutrition Coordination Mechanism,” the Minister added.
Food choice is the most immediate factor that impacts on nutrition, which in turn significantly determines health status. While the Public Health Ministry has the mandate for the country’s health outcome, good nutrition also depends on access to adequate and nutritious foods, the types of foods that are available, food preferences and quality of diets, food preparation practices, and nutrition education—all of which require the involvement of multiple sectors and ministries.
UNICEF Representative to Guyana and Suriname, Sylvie Fouet said while the government’s investment into food and nutrition education is noteworthy, collaboration is essential since as a result the country’s human resource can eventually be listed among the healthiest in the Caribbean.
“It is one of the most important investments that can be made to ensure everybody from childhood to adult realise their full potential… This is related to the brain so when we talk stomach we talk the brain. So, if we fail to address good nutrition we run the risk of actually getting the generation in a cycle of low health and low performances and sometimes challenging development”, Fouet said.
Giving a snapshot of the nutritional facts and the situation of the Guyana population, Food Policy Division Director, Dinte Conway pointed out that the Ministry of Public Health cannot address the nutritional insufficiencies alone, hence, the need for the coordination mechanism.
Subsequently, the outcome of this meeting is to identify priority actions which will put the National Nutrition Coordination Mechanism into full effect.
By: Delicia Haynes