2023: What's ahead for ENN
A critical year – Nigel Tricks
"It’s 2023, and we have 7 years left to end all forms of malnutrition, 'including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons'. However, these targets are not being met and instead of reaching zero hunger, if current trends continue, the number of hungry people will reach 840 million by 2030. The need for collective action has never been more critical and the expertise and solutions are out there. ENN is committed to making 2023 its most productive yet in fulfilling our aim that 'every individual caught up in a nutritional emergency, or suffering from malnutrition anywhere in the world, gets the most effective help possible'."
Here, some of our team set out just a few of their ambitions for the next year;
Wasting and Stunting (WaSt) – Tanya Khara
"The Wasting and Stunting Technical Interest Group (WaSt TIG), coordinated by ENN, is made up of 42 experts in child growth, nutrition and epidemiology. The group recently reflected on its achievements in furthering our understanding of how child wasting and stunting are inter-related and, crucially, what that means for better nutrition programme design and policymaking.
We are excited to share two long-awaited, landmark papers very soon. These papers describe how low weight-for-age is a simple and effective screening tool to identify children at the greatest risk of dying from malnutrition and how measuring children frequently vastly improves our ability to identify those at most risk. Look out for these papers on our website page in the coming weeks.
In 2023 we are keen to translate this learning into much-needed practical answers to how we better screen and treat children with the highest mortality risk. To help make this happen we are seeking partners and funding for a small in-country study (articulated in the WaSt research study protocol) that will allow us to do that.
The WaSt TIG are also exploring the common drivers and pathways to wasting and stunting and have just released an invitation for researchers and donors to collaborate on important research gaps in this area. Taking this further we are looking forward to collaborating with national actors in 2023 to explore and document local examples of progress, or lack of progress, on reducing wasting alongside stunting. We want to delve deeply into the whys to see if this learning can further inform effective prevention efforts and support national actors in decision making for their contexts. Please do get in touch with us if you are interested in collaborating with the group and have country level data and experience to share on this theme. We’re looking forward to another fruitful year ahead".
Food Systems – Leah Richardson
“The new year heralds an exciting push deeper into demystifying the connect between shaping a food system that protects our planetary boundaries and delivers healthy nutritious diets for all.
We will build on our 2021 report on Food systems and how they relate to malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries and our 2022 scoping review of the current state of play of Nutrition and Climate Change by effectively closing the loop between a climate-friendly food system that supports nutrition outcomes. We will do this with a third think piece providing clarity and motivation for how one can work in and advance the intersection of nutrition sensitive and sustainable food systems. Not only will this contribute to bridging the divide between academic and operational (something I think ENN is so good at) but it will also feed into ENN’s much anticipated internal strategy development. We will be able to use this combined thinking to define ENN’s added value in this space and guide our work in the years to come. This, in itself, is a really exciting outcome and will enable us to become sharper, stronger and most importantly, contributing our best self to 'work alongside governments, the United Nations, non-governmental organisations, and research institutions worldwide to look critically at existing practices, raise awareness of issues and drive change so that those working to tackle malnutrition can do the best possible job.'"
Women’s nutrition – Philip James
“2022 taught us that we continue to need sustained advocacy to address the importance of good nutrition for women and adolescent girls. An important and urgent intervention that could be much better utilised within antenatal care is Multiple Micronutrient supplementation (MMS) which we drew attention to recently in ‘Nutrition of women and adolescent girls in humanitarian contexts: Current state of play’.
Because of the multiple stakeholders to reach with critical MMS knowledge and learning, we are regularly asked to facilitate documentation of actual experiences of MMS supplementation and to summarise the opportunities and challenges. In 2023 we will publish a report to support practitioners and donors – a short technical briefing paper which will also be supported with a peer-reviewed journal article targeting global policymakers and academics.
Our other planned maternal-related work will be covered under the MAMI and Adolescent Nutrition projects, both of which have a lens of identifying and managing the most vulnerable, at-risk infants and their mothers.”
MAMI – Leah Richardson
"ENN moves into the new year continuing to champion the vision that every small and nutritionally at-risk infant under six months and their mother is supported to survive and thrive. “There is still so much to be done to meet the needs of this neglected group and we are so pleased to have the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue and broaden the activities of the MAMI Global Network. We will be emphasizing (a) establishing cross-sectoral consultation, partnership, and collaboration; and (b) building evidence and developing implementation guidance on pathways of care for infants and their mothers through the first six months of life.
Brokering collaboration and partnership across disciplines is essential to secure buy-in, avoid duplication, and achieve more together and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to do this through chairing the MAMI Global Network. ENN will also scope and appraise the details of existing multi-sectoral guidance/policies relevant to the health and nutrition of small and nutritionally at-risk infants u6m and their mothers to identify the gaps, opportunities and synergies to address. We will capture and synthesise programme experiences and evidence through documenting what has worked and why, as well as what should be done better. Bringing in this real life implementation experience to an analysis of policies and guidance will make sure that we don't lose sight of what this means for health workers, care givers and those involved in the continuum of care for infants. We see this as an exciting year to advance long-standing collective efforts to meet the needs of at-risk infants".
IFE Core Group – Jodine Chase
“We all know that in emergencies, the ability of caregivers to meet the nutritional needs of infants and young children is eroded and undermined. We also know that emergencies continue to be exploited through inappropriate commercial food and formula donations, and uncontrolled distribution of breastmilk substitutes, threatening the fundamental right of the child to good nutrition. The IFE Core Group has reflected on the last 10 Years of Progress in IYCF-E and is moving to champion the recommendations from that report. In the words of Dr Victor Aguayo, UNICEF, and Dr Francesco Branca, WHO, 'now is the time to consolidate the policy, programming, and knowledge gains from the global emergencies of the past decade to channel those gains into routine systems as well as preparedness and response capacities'. We've heard the call to action in that report: strategic policy and programmatic actions based on advocacy, research, and evidence are urgently needed. Our work in 2023 is guided by this call.”
Field Exchange (FEX) – Philip James
“As our flagship technical publication for nutrition practitioners enters its 27th year, we are planning to publish three editions in 2023. The first edition of the year will include follow up work from our special section on complementary feeding in emergencies in response to an overwhelming need for more experiences and evidence on this crucial topic. We are also looking forward to our new FEX strategy, which will help shape the publication for the future, including digital transformation of content as part of our website redevelopment. As we develop the strategy we will prioritise listening and respond to the needs of our audience, so please do get in touch with us with any ideas you have.
We look forward to another year of building evidence of what works - and how - in different national contexts and sharing that learning far and wide.”
Adolescent Nutrition – Natasha Lelijveld
“This year, we're looking forward to growing the Global Adolescent Nutrition Network (GANN) even further beyond our 150 current members. We want the GANN to be a more interactive community and even more useful resource. We intend to widely promote our quarterly presentations from a diverse range of organisations (our first gathering of the year attracted over 300 sign-ups!) and to share the GANN newsletter in which members can share new research findings, and news. We’ll continue to work closely with a 'core group' to jointly tackle issues in adolescent nutrition such as challenges in collecting survey data and in addressing a lack of specific conceptual frameworks for causes and consequences of adolescent nutrition. We’ve already had a great start to 2023 with the launch of our research roadmap.
This year, the Adolescent Nutrition team at ENN will also be exploring gaps in programming for adolescent nutrition during humanitarian emergencies. We’ll also work more closely with the MAMI team to consider what specific care might be needed for pregnant adolescent girls in order to break the links between adolescent pregnancy and small, nutritionally-vulnerable infants.”
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