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Building momentum for nutrition at the 72nd World Health Assembly and beyond!

  |   SUN Country Network, SUN UN Network

The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement was proud to wave the nutrition flag at the 72nd World Health Assembly which took place 20 – 28 May in Geneva, Switzerland.

Building on the success of 2018, the SUN Movement hosted the second Nutrition Hub, bringing together a range of nutrition champions from governments and other stakeholder groups. Together, these SUN Nutrition Champions worked to jointly ensure that nutrition was visible at the World Health Assembly, while also providing a space for SUN Country representatives and diverse nutrition stakeholders to come together for mutual exchange and learning.

This year the SUN Movement Secretariat hosted two key events on the margins of the World Health Assembly.  WHA was a critical opportunity to ensure nutrition was integrated into key global policy documents on Universal Health Coverage which are essential for shaping national UHC priorities and plans.

Building momentum for nutrition at the World Health Assembly and beyond

On Monday evening, 20 May, a public reception titled ‘Building momentum for nutrition at the World Health Assembly and beyond’ was held at Villa le Bocage. The event was an opportunity for WHO Member states and nutrition stakeholders from UN, academia, civil society and the private sector to come together for informal exchange and discussion of key nutrition issues and opportunities. The event was also a moment to jointly identify opportunities to ensure nutrition was visible at the WHA, through key resolutions at WHA, and was seen as an important stepping stones leading up to Nutrition for Growth in 2020 in Japan. The event was moderated by the SUN Movement Coordinator, Ms. Gerda Verburg, and the speakers included Dr. Pushpa Chaudhary, Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Population of Nepal, Minister Masashi Nakagome, Permanent Mission of Japan to the International Organizations in Geneva and Dr. Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director General, Healthier Populations, WHO.

Fighting all forms of malnutrition through Universal Health Coverage

On Tuesday morning, the SUN Movement hosted a high-level ministerial breakfast on the topic of ‘Fighting all forms of malnutrition through Universal Health Coverage’. The event brought together Ministers of Health from across WHO regions, alongside global health stakeholders, to share experiences, highlight opportunities, challenges and good practices in integrating nutrition in UHC. The event was moderated by the SUN Movement Coordinator, Ms. Gerda Verburg and the high-level participants included:

  • Dr. Zulema Tomas, Minister of Health, Peru, Hon. Mr. Upendra Yadav, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health and Population, Nepal, Dr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, Minister of Health, Ghana, Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, Minister of State, Primary Health Care, Rwanda, Mr Md Ashadul Islam, Secretary, Health Services Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh, Dr. Abel Kabalo, Director of Health Promotion, Ministry of Health, Zambia, Dr.Panpimol Wipulakorn, Director General, Department of Health, Thailand, Ms. Erika Placella, Deputy Head Global Program Health, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, SDC, Switzerland, Dr Anders Nordström, Ambassador for Global Health, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sweden, Dr. Francesco Branca, Director, Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, WHO, Dr Githinji GITAHI, CEO of Amref, Co-chair of UHC2030, Ms. Katie Dain, CEO, NCD Alliance, Dr. Pascal Ravault, Director of Research, Expertise and Advocacy, Action Contre le Faim, Dr. Siobhan Crowley, Excecutive Director of Child Health and Development, CIFF,  SUN Donor Network, Dr. Monique Vledder, Program manager, the Global Financing Facility, Dr. Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director General, Healthier Populations, WHO and Ms. Meera Shekar, Director of Nutrition, World Bank, Chair of SUN Executive Committee

For the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement these two events were strategic moments to highlight that good nutrition, especially during a child’s critical first 1.000 days, is the foundation for health, physical and cognitive development and is essential to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Important discussions were had at both events to ensure that SUN countries and allies are ready to scale up action on nutrition through UHC. Attendees acknowledged the need for coordinated multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder action for good nutrition and that the health system has a crucial role in delivering key nutrition services to ensure a solid foundation for health throughout the life-cycle. Similarly, lively debate was had on how nutrition should be integrated into global UHC resolutions and policies and in national UHC plans.

In addition to these two events, SUN Movement stakeholders highlighted the importance of nutrition through several other engagements.

The SUN Movement Coordinator delivered a statement on behalf of the SUN Movement during the Member States deliberations on why nutrition needs to be at the heart of Universal Health Coverage – read it here!

H. E. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization, the SUN Movement Coordinator Gerda Verburg, H. E. Mr. Zahid Maleque, MP, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Mr. Armando Bartolazzi, Undersecretary of State for Health, Government of Italy, Secretary General of the Italian Ministry of Health, H. E. Dr. Francisco T. Duque III, Secretary of Health, Government of the Philippines along with several other high-level speakers highlighted the importance of nutrition for health in the official side event: Nutrition4Health: Nutrition Innovations along with NCDs Prevention for Achieving Universal Health Coverage within the Context of the 2030 Agenda and the UN Nutrition Decade, on 21 May 2019. The event was co-sponsored by Albania, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, India, Italy, Lebanon, Malawi, Montenegro, Philippines, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Putting Prevention at the center of UHC: A multi-sectoral approach to achieve health for all

On Wednesday morning 22 May, the SUN Movement co-sponsored an interactive side event titled “Putting Prevention at the center of UHC: A multi-sectoral approach to achieve health for all” along with WaterAid, Nutrition International, RESULTS UK, Action Against Hunger, World Obesity Federation, Global Nutrition Report and AMREF. The event, moderated by the Director of the SUN Movement Secretariat, Ms. Brenda Killen, brought together stakeholders from governments, United Nations, civil society and academia to discuss concrete ways to ensure prevention – including good nutrition – is prioritised in UHC, at the High-Level Meeting and beyond. Speakers included among others Dr. Mofijul Islam Bulbul, Deputy Program Manager, National Nutrition Services and SUN Technical Focal Point from Bangladesh, as well as two champions from national SUN Civil Society Alliances, Mr. Jean Claude Rakotomalala, ASOS Madagascar and Ms. Lucy Murage, Nutrition International, Kenya.

Thank you to everyone who attended or participated in a Nutrition Hub event this year! It was a great opportunity to gather with our SUN Movement members, allies and nutrition champions and to keep nutrition high on everyone’s agenda.

If you were unable to attend, you can still catch all the action from the Nutrition Hub via Facebook live.

Visit #NutritionHubSUN, #NutritionDecade or #UHC on twitter to get a glimpse of the #nutrition discussions which took place throughout the week. Here are just a few highlights!

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