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UN launches online tool to fight different forms of malnutrition


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UN launches online tool to fight different forms of malnutrition

2011-08-10 21:35:19 GMT+7 (ICT)

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) -- The United Nations' (UN) World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday launched a web-based tool that provides guidance to combat different forms of malnutrition.

The WHO e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA) is aimed at helping governments and health-care providers with access to guidance on how to scale up life-saving nutrition interventions. The project named three main forms of malnutrition - undernutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and overweight and obesity - as its main targets.

The online tool was launched in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at the beginning of a three-day Asian regional meeting on nutrition, which is designed to help governments overcome one of the major challenges in fighting malnutrition. The material in the e-library describes the effective health interventions needed to tackle the issue.

The web-based tool provides appropriate treatment of severe acute malnutrition; promoting breastfeeding; and fortifying staple foods with vitamins and minerals such as iron and folic acid for wheat and maize flours. In addition, it recommends using multiple micronutrient powders to fortify foods for children aged between six and 23 months.

To prevent anamia, the tool explains that daily iron and folic supplements are advised for pregnant women, and intermittent iron and folic acid supplementation is recommended for menstruating women and pre-school and school-age children.

"Several billion people are affected by one or more types of malnutrition," said Ala Alwan, the WHO Assistant Director-General of Non Communicable Diseases and Mental Health. "Countries need access to the science and evidence-informed guidance to reduce the needless death and suffering associated with malnutrition. eLENA can greatly improve how countries cope with the terrible health threats posed by malnutrition," he added.

Multiple UN agencies and other key entities, including WHO, have been promoting the “Scaling up Nutrition†movement, which is helping countries around the world in the nutrition field. Furthermore, the movement strives to help countries tackle malnutrition by adequately developing the agriculture, health, social protection and the food security sectors.

Francesco Branca, the WHO Director of Nutrition for Health and Development, said eLENA was created after extensive research with scientific evidence of different kinds of nutrition actions.

There are various forms of malnutrition including being underweight, iodine deficiency, anemia, vitamin A deficiency, zinc deficiency, and overweight or obese.

Underweight is the leading risk factor for many diseases in low-income countries and which represents about 6 percent of the global disease burden. Childhood underweight, micronutrient deficiencies and poor breastfeeding combined cause 7 percent of deaths – 3.9 million fatalities – and 10 percent of the global disease burden.

Iodine deficiency is a type of micronutrient deficiencies and is the world's most prevalent, yet easily preventable cause of brain damage. Anemia, which affects 1.6 billion people, is mostly due to iron deficiency. It increases the risk of low-birth-weight and pregnancy anemia, associated with 18 percent of maternal deaths.

Vitamin A deficiency, meanwhile, affects 190 million pre-school children across the world, while zinc deficiency, which can affect the immune system, kills 430,000 children annually.

An estimated 1.5 billion adults over age 20 are overweight or obese. Global estimates suggest that more than 40 million children under the age of five are already overweight or obese.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-08-10

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