Solving micronutrient malnutrition is an important goal of the international community and was emphasized in the World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition adopted at the International Conference on Nutrition in December 1992. Yet to date, most of the efforts to control the three major deficiencies of public health concern worldwide - vitamin A, iron and iodine deficiencies - have used supplementation strategies. Although supplementation is necessary for groups at high risk and as a short-term emergency measure, it fails to recognize the root causes of micronutrient malnutrition and to assist communities and households to adequately feed and nourish themselves in both the near and long term.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) have collaborated to produce a pair of documents entitled Preventing Micronutrient Malnutrition: A Guide to Food-based Approaches which highlight the value of food-based approaches in controlling micronutrient malnutrition. FAO and ILSI share a commitment to continuing the drive to place food-based strategies for preventing micronutrient deficiencies on the development policy agenda.
This, the shorter document, subtitled Why Policy Makers Should Give Priority to Food-based Strategies, provides an overview of the public health importance of micronutrient malnutrition and how to go about taking action to control the problem. FAO and ILSI envisage the policy-makers document being useful in generating support for taking action to address micronutrient malnutrition.
The longer document, subtitled A Manual for Policy Makers and Programme Planners, presents a more complete description of possible programmatic approaches that can be implemented to address micronutrient malnutrition. It also identifies factors hindering the implementation of these approaches, and attempts to assist policy makers and programmers in overcoming these constraints.
It is hoped that these two documents will serve as the basis for future dialogue and discussion in many forums and will aid in the initiation of an international commitment to the implementation of effective, long-term food-based solutions to the scourge of micronutrient deficiencies.
For more information on these documents including ordering information, contact either of the following two individuals:
Dr. Suzanne S. Harris
ILSI Human Nutrition Institute
1126 Sixteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-4810
Mr. John R. Lupien
Food and Nutrition Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla