MANILA, PHILIPPINES – In a collective move to end all forms of malnutrition in the region, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States adopted the Leaders’ Declaration on Ending All Forms of Malnutrition during the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila on 13 November 2017.
The declaration is the highest level of political commitment geared toward a multi-sectoral approach engaging the sectors of agriculture, health, nutrition, social welfare and other stakeholders, all for achieving sustainable food and nutrition security among nations of the region.
In the Chairman’s statement delivered during the 31st ASEAN Summit, Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, on behalf of the ASEAN Leaders, recognized the critical importance of addressing malnutrition as essential in achieving development.
“We recognize that nutrition is an essential factor to overall health and well-being, thus, contributing to the overall productivity and development of the ASEAN Member States… We look forward to the formulation of the multi-sectoral ASEAN Framework of Action for Nutrition in 2018 as a way forward for implementing the Declaration,” he said.
Following this pronouncement, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) of the Department of Health Philippines hosted the “Workshop to Formulate the ASEAN Strategic Framework and Action Plan for Nutrition, 2018-2030”, on 2-4 May in Makati City. About 35 delegates from the Region representing the ASEAN sectoral bodies of health, nutrition, social welfare, agriculture, and education jointly identified short- and long-term activities to operationalize the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration, all in the spirit of ASEAN community-building to strengthen cross-ASEAN pillar cooperation.
The workshop produced three outcome documents that include the:
- ASEAN Strategic Framework on Nutrition which identified the relevant global goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals, Global Targets for Maternal, Infant, and Young Child Nutrition, Nine Global Voluntary targets on Non-Communicable Diseases, and the regional goals such as the Post 2015 Health agenda where the proposed ASEAN Strategic Framework on Nutrition is aligned with.
- Action Plan on Nutrition that sets the specific activities and outputs to be achieved for 2018-2025 through the collaborative efforts of the ASEAN sectoral bodies.
- ASEAN Nutrition Surveillance Plan that was updated specifically to be harmonized with the goals of the ASEAN Leader’s Declaration on Ending All Forms of Malnutrition, the Global Nutrition Monitoring Framework and the ASEAN Sociocultural Community Blueprint Monitoring Framework.
As reported in the 2016 Regional Report on Nutrition Security in ASEAN, 17.9 million of children under-five are stunted, while 5.9 million are wasted, and 4.5 million are overweight. Another 21 million suffer from anemia and various types of micronutrient deficiencies leading to cognitive and learning deficits, and increased morbidities and mortalities, including those related to non-communicable diseases.
The plans that were produced can facilitate decision-making in relation to the current regional nutrition situation, and direct targeting for nutrition and general development programs addressing these concerns. These will also chart and shape the directions and future of nutrition in the ASEAN in the next 50 years.
“All our undertaking, both at the national and regional levels recognizes that each of the ASEAN Member States has good practices and unique challenges as well. Our combined experiences and expertise should be harnessed and should become valuable inputs to this workshop,” DSWD Undersecretary Florita Villar said on behalf of Secretary of Health and NNC Chair Dr. Francisco Duque.
Aside from delegates from the ASEAN Member States, eight delegates from the United Nations partner organizations such as the UNICEF, WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and Pacific, The World Bank, World Food Programme, Alive and Thrive, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, participated in the workshop to share with the Member States, areas for possible collaboration.