By: Talking Nutrition Editors
The current pandemic has put health in the spotlight like never before. Those who cannot access or afford nutritious foods are already struggling to meet the recommended levels of essential vitamins and minerals they need to support their immunity. But with further disruptions to food systems likely to push some of the most vulnerable people into acute malnutrition and make them even more susceptible to infectious disease, the pressure is on to introduce emergency food interventions at scale to protect those most at risk.
Paving the way for the UN Food Systems Summit and Nutrition for Growth (N4G) next year, the Second Global Summit on Food Fortification (GSFF) and Micronutrient Forum (MNF) will take place virtually in November. These milestone events will bring together key players from governments, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector, so that essential conversations can take place to fulfil the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of achieving zero hunger by 2030.
As a purpose-led company, DSM takes pride in helping its partners create effective and cost-efficient products that will shape brighter, healthier futures for individuals worldwide. More than an ingredients supplier, DSM is an active, end-to-end partner in driving the affordable nutrition revolution forward, and is leading the conversation on how food fortification and supplementation can be used effectively to create a healthier and more sustainable future for all.
Key topics that DSM will discuss during this year’s events include the importance of fortification during critical times – like the COVID-19 pandemic – to optimize immunity and build resilience, as well as the benefits of multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS) during pregnancy. DSM will also talk about the importance of building new alliances to positively impact nutrition which help to tackle the problem of ‘hidden hunger’ by providing nutrient-rich foods, rather than simply increasing calorie intake.
Micronutrients are essential for optimal health and quality of life. The Micronutrient Forum’s 5th Global Conference will cover a broad spectrum of topics related to micronutrients – from research, efficacy and safety, to implementation and current policies. In addition, the forum will take a deep dive into how micronutrients might be optimized and protected within food systems, and will encourage greater collaboration across the agriculture, manufacturing, processing and distribution sectors to drive multi-sectoral innovation for more sustainable solutions.
MNF 2020 will be discussing the benefits of micronutrient dosage, duration and frequency throughout the lifecycle. One important life stage where micronutrient supplementation is essential is during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Pregnant women in low or middle-income countries are less likely to have healthy, nutrient-dense diets, which may affect their own and their babies’ short- and long-term health.1 Maternal undernutrition, for example, causes nearly half of all deaths of children under the age five, and can lead to birth defects and disabilities that can impact children’s cognitive development — limiting future educational and economic opportunities.2 In fact, approximately 149 million children under five are cognitively and physically stunted and more than 49 million suffer from wasting.3 Ensuring that pregnant women in low and middle-income countries receive the vitamins and minerals they need is therefore crucial to ensure healthy pregnancies, birth outcomes and futures for children.4
Current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend MMS for pregnant women in the context of rigorous research.5 Maternal MMS can reduce the risk of maternal anemia. Compared to supplements with iron and folic acid (IFAS) alone, MMS can reduce preterm births by 4 to 8%, overall 6-month infant mortality by 7%, and the number of infants born with a low birthweight (LBW) by 12%, small for gestational age (SGA) newborn infants 3% to 8%, and stillbirths by 3% to 8%.6,7,8,9 Transferring from IFAS to MMS has also been shown to be potentially cost-effective in various countries, including India and Bangladesh.10,11
Additionally, in a new joint guidance, UNICEF, WFP and GTAM recommend introducing MMS for pregnant and lactating women to meet their nutritional needs in the mitigation phase of COVID-19 where nutritional deficiencies are highly prevalent or where food distribution is disrupted.12 Furthermore, nutritional support (e.g. counseling, access to nutrient dense local food, micronutrient supplements) is recommended for at-risk pregnant and lactating women or women with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and isolating at home.
Together, the public and private sectors have the power to achieve zero hunger by 2030 (SDG 2) and create a better and more sustainable future for all. Governments, NGOs, donors and those across the supply chain, including food manufacturers, farmers, schools and nutrition experts, must lead the way and work together to identify and implement nutrition intervention strategies that will meet specific country goals and support regional and global economies. Events like MNF, UNFSS and N4G are important platforms for all stakeholders to come together and advance the food fortification and supplementation agenda.
Malnutrition is one of the greatest nutritional challenges of our time, and tackling it requires the joint efforts of organizations, stakeholders and businesses across all sectors. Join us at the MNF and GAIN events to learn more and support the work being done to end malnutrition forever. https://www.gainhealth.org/events/micronutrient-forum-5th-global-conference-2020
At DSM, we know that creating brighter lives for 4 billion undernourished people takes solid experience, technical expertise, and passion at every stage of the development process. That is why we constantly innovate affordable, aspirational, and accessible nutritional solutions, empowering our customers’ products to change lives anywhere in the world. This takes more than ingredients. It takes a partner
27 October 2020
7 min read