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Global Technical Assistance Mechanism for Nutrition (GTAM)

The Global Technical Assistance Mechanism for Nutrition (GTAM) is a common global mechanism endorsed by over 40 Global Nutrition Cluster (GNC) partners that aims to improve the provision of systematic, predictable, timely and coordinated nutrition technical assistance to meet the nutrition needs of people affected by emergencies. It is co-led by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Vision International (WVI), in collaboration with a core team (GTAM-CT) including ENN as the knowledge management (KM) partner, the GNC and the Technical Rapid Response Team (Tech RRT).

When country and regional capacities are exhausted, unresolved technical issues can be escalated to the GTAM. Depending on the issue, the GTAM will provide technical advice, facilitate the development of consensus-driven guidance through Global Thematic Working Groups (GTWGs) and normative agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and provide specialised technical expertise. Wherever possible and appropriate, the GTAM seeks to leverage existing technical support mechanisms and resources. To further facilitate this process, the GTAM-CT launched the GTAM website in June 2020.

During this year, the GTAM was called on to rapidly mobilise and organise relevant actors to respond to demands for technical support relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. This highlighted the mechanism’s important role in bringing unresolved country and regional technical issues to the global level and facilitating action to resolve them. This work began in March with the compilation and release of a summary of guidance on Nutrition in Emergencies (NiE) relevant to the COVID-19 context. GTAM activities relating to COVID-19 were rapidly scaled up in the beginning of the second quarter of the year with the convening of partners and their contribution to the development of briefs exploring the management of childhood wasting in the context of COVID-19, Infant and Young Child Feeding in the context of COVID-19 and Surveillance and Monitoring in the context of COVID-19.

The GTWGs scaled up efforts to provide consensus driven guidance and expert advice. Questions from the field were collected through en-net, the GNC Helpdesk and webinars hosted by the Tech RRT. Questions were then reviewed and those identified as not already being covered by existing guidance were consolidated and channelled to the GTWGs for responses. The Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) GTWG responded to questions around cessation of breastfeeding, expressing of breast milk, complementary feeding distribution, artificial feeding and IYCF programming in the COVID-19 context. The Wasting GTWG examined questions related to the impact of COVID-19 on wasting burden, the prioritisation of wasting interventions in the face of restricted movement and resources, adapted protocols for treatment, product supply and the management of at-risk infants. The Nutrition Information Systems (NIS) GTWG discussed questions in relation to surveillance adaptations, innovations in data collection and supervision and monitoring in light of restrictions on movement and contact. Answers to questions were provided through COVID-19 related technical briefs, information notes, resource lists and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the GNC website.

Over time, it was observed that the nature of questions being asked from the field shifted away from those that were technical in nature (alongside a proliferation of guidance) towards those related to the desire to hear more about the experiences of other programmers of adapting their approaches and protocols in the light of COVID-19. It therefore became apparent that avenues to collect, curate and disseminate examples of field level programme adaptations were needed. Programme Adaptation Teams (PAT) were developed to do this related to the IYCF, management of wasting and NIS thematic areas. Each PAT has a coordinator and is responsible for sourcing examples and curating a Google document outlining different programme adaptations on a bi-weekly basis. Podcasts were also developed to highlight and communicate different experiences of programme adaptations, led by ENN. The Tech RRT led on the development and delivery of a series of webinars discussing adaptations and responses to COVID-19.

As the response proceeds, the GTAM mechanism will continue to adapt to and be responsive to in-country needs. The GTAM-CT will further reflect on its processes to inform its response to future emergencies.

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Global Technical Assistance Mechanism for Nutrition (GTAM). , January 0001. www.ennonline.net/fex/gtam

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