Adopting to the new normal, the Philippines, as lead country for the ASEAN Strategic Framework and Action Plan for Nutrition 2018-2030, virtually convened the nutrition focal points of the (ten) 10 ASEAN Member States last 18 June 2020. The agenda of the video conference was to discuss the progress of the activities in the ASEAN Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Nutrition. In attendance were thirty-three (33) participants composed of the nutrition focal points from all ten ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat Health Division of the Human Development Directorate and the Philippine delegation from the Department of Health and National Nutrition Council led by NNC Executive Director and chair of the meeting, Dr. Azucena M. Dayanghirang.
In her opening remarks, the Chair of the meeting encouraged her fellow country nutrition focal points to carry on with the commitment to end all forms of malnutrition even amidst COVID-19 and take this as an opportunity for health and nutrition to generate the support and prioritization it deserves.
The meeting agreed on the priorities for 2020, 2021 and for 2022-2025 based on the approved activities in the ASEAN Strategic Framework and Action Plan in Nutrition 2018-2030. All the activities for 2020 in the Strategic Framework shall be pursued until 2021 but shall be conducted virtually until face-to-face meetings are allowed. Four (4) of the eight (8) priorities for 2020, are being led by Philippines through the Department of Health - Family Health Office and the National Nutrition Council:
- Development of guidelines and minimum standards for the protection, promotion, and support of breastfeeding and complementary feeding including the implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, and Relevant World Health Assembly Resolutions;
- ASEAN Food and Nutrition Security Report 2020;
- Establishment of the ASEAN Nutrition Surveillance System (ANSS); and
- Development of ASEAN guidelines and training for integration of nutrition to social welfare, education, and agriculture.
The rest of the activities were spread over 2021 and 2022 with room for new activities in 2023 – 2025 that may be identified during the development of the ASEAN Health Cluster 1 Work Programme 2021 – 2025. The agreements during the video conference shall be elevated to the ASEAN Health Cluster 1 for endorsement by ad referendum.
Amidst the economic and social disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippines adhere to its commitment of continues delivery of essential health and nutrition services across the country to ensure the nutritional well-being of the Filipino people. Likewise, the Philippines, as one of the ten (10) member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), also adheres to its regional commitment to the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on Ending All Forms of Malnutrition adopted in the 31st ASEAN Summit during the Chairmanship of the Philippines in 2017.