|SCN News, Number 17 - Nutrition and HIV/AIDS (ACC/SCN, 1998, 72 p.)|
SCNs Commission on Nutrition Challenges of the 21st Century completes report
This is being written in Chennai, India where the SCNs Commission on Nutrition Challenges of the 21st Century is meeting to discuss issues pertinent to South East Asia. The meeting is being held in the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, with Professor Swaminathan himself hosting the meeting. Among the participants are nutrition experts from eight Asian countries as well as a group from India itself. FAO and UNICEF are also present, along with Philip James, chair of the Commission, and all members of the Commission. Mr. Rosenegger, the FAO country representative, took this opportunity to announce new FAO project support to the state of Tamil Nadu.
The meeting has been extremely lively with many frank and wide-ranging contributions. The Commissions plan now is to complete its draft report by December 20th, receive comments from SCN members in January and produce a final report in time for the SCNs 26th Session. We will also circulate a draft strategic plan for enhancing collaboration among the UN members of the SCN. Both the Commission report and the strategic plan will be available to the public after the SCN has met in April, 1999.
I must record here the tragic death in July of Dr. Mahbub ul Haq, the distinguished and visionary economist, founder of UNDPs Human Development Report and President of the Human Development Foundation in Pakistan. Dr. ul Haq had been a member of the SCNs Commission, which had already drawn enormously on the wealth of his experience and insights and the challenge of his ideas.
I take this opportunity to bid farewell and offer heartfelt thanks to two persons who have greatly contributed to the work of the SCNs Secretariat: Jane Wallace and Cathy Needham. Jane Wallace has been the creative editor of the Refugee Nutrition Information System (RNIS) Reports for the last five years and Cathy edited the SCN news for the past year and created the SCN web-site. We wish them well in their new careers in WHO.
I am delighted to announce that January will see the arrival of two new staff members at the SCN Secretariat in Geneva. Dr. Arabella Duffield will take over as RNIS Coordinator. Arabella recently completed her PhD at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her doctoral research, supervised by Professor Simon Strickland, was carried out in Indonesia on adult malnutrition. Judy Pojda will take over as SCN News Editor. Judy has a PhD in international nutrition and communications from Cornell University and trained as a broadcast and newsprint journalist at the Caribbean Institute of Mass Communication. I am sure you will join with me in welcoming Arabella and Judy into the SCN fold.
Nutrition and HIV/AIDS is featured in this newsletter. HIV continues its rapid and devastating spread in many areas of the world most notably sub-Saharan Africa. This feature addresses issues of HIV and Infant Feeding and the possible role of micronutrient deficiency on HIV progression. Adequate nutrition and food security must be recognised as important components in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The 26th Session will take place in Geneva, 12-15 April 1999, hosted by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights. The first day will be devoted to a Symposium on The Substance and Politics of a Human Rights Approach to Food Policies and Programming, with a keynote address by Mrs. Mary Robinson - we hope the various presentations will lead to lively debate.
The economic turmoil in East Asia in 1998 has had far-reaching repercussions in many countries. The nutritional impact on vulnerable groups is far from clear, since data on nutritional status are still only patchily available and not maintained on a month to month basis. By contrast, economic, financial and stock exchange statistics are maintained daily. Governments, put great emphasis on building strong economies, yet the issue of proper nutrition for the vulnerable segments of society receives nothing like the same priority. These groups need a voice, a loud international one, and we must be that voice. Public awareness of the importance of nutrition is crucial. Practical commitment to nutrition and food security as human rights are the bedrock for this. Only when these are established and understood will politicians find themselves under pressure to address the issue. Let us all make 1999 a year of nutrition enlightenment for everyones benefit.