Update on IUNS Activities
contributed by Professor Aree Valyasevi, President, International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS).
Two major meetings have been the focus of IUNS activities to date. The IUNS Eighth General Assembly Meeting was held in Adelaide, Australia, on 28 and 30 September 1993 followed by the 33rd IUNS Council Meeting from 21-23 January 1994 in Heelsum, The Netherlands.
At the IUNS Eighth General Assembly Meeting, the Secretary General reported that valid applications have been received and accepted from the Nutrition Societies in the Czech Republic, Estonia, The Gambia, Kenya, and the Slovak Republic. IUNS extends a warm welcome to these nations.
It was also announced that the IUNS Award 1993 was given to Dr Fernando Monckeberg (Chile). This announcement was accepted with acclamation. Dr Monckeberg is both an excellent scientist and a person with a very strong motivation to work for the nutrition well-being of really poor people. In addition, the IUNS Council has introduced the recognition of 16 outstanding scientists to be elected as IUNS Fellows for their distinguished contributions to nutrition in their countries. These outstanding scientists are: Gyorgy Biro - Hungary: Jasef Leibetseder - Austria; A R P Walker - South Africa: C Gopalan - India; Vinodini Reddy - India; Nevin Scrimshaw - USA; D. Calloway - USA; A Forbes - USA; Carmen Intengan - Philippines; Rodolfo Florentino - Philippines; Yang Guang-qi - China; P C Huang - Taiwan; R Luyken - Netherlands; Antonia Trichopoulou - Greece; John Gay - Cuba; and Jose Eduardo Dutra-De-Oliveira - Brazil.
The delegation also proposed the following Adhering Bodies to be members of the nominating Committee for the period 1993-1997: Austria, Finland, Japan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Another issue proposed for future consideration at the General Assembly Meeting was that increased revenues should be found in order for IUNS to pursue its academic/scientific activities since the only present source is membership fees. This is particularly relevant in view of the rapid changes in nutrition.
Finally, in view of recent happenings, an urgent need was noted by delegates to have a policy statement by IUNS with regards to the sponsoring of nutrition congresses by food companies. IUNS clearly understood the feelings of some delegates and discussed this issue as one of its top priorities at the 33rd IUNS Council Meeting. To be equitable to all, the Council invited food industry representatives to present their cases at a special workshop with regards to their financial support of IUNS activities as such and to nutrition activities in general. Furthermore, the IUNS Council reviewed this issue not only with regard to the infant formula food industry but more in general to the food industry. Based on these discussions, the IUNS is considering that this issue is not a simple dispute but requires careful consideration at each step. IUNS is a scientific organization, and as such it is realized that there is an urgent need for a policy statement with regards to sponsorship of IUNS and nutrition activities. In the case of disputes, for instance, an ethical committee could review the issues. Consequently, IUNS is in the process of pursuing this matter more seriously.
Source and contact for further information: Professor Aree Valyasevi, c/o Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University at Salaya, Nakorn Chaisri, Nakorn Pathom 73170, Thailand. Phone: 66 2 4419035 or 4419039 Fax: 66 2 4419344 or 5169403.
Address by Dr Jose E Dutra-de-Oliveira, Former President of the IUNS, at the International Congress of Nutrition, Adelaide, Australia, September 1993.
Nutritional Sciences, Meaning and Actions
Nutritional sciences or nutrition, although a very important subject for all living organisms, has, several times, a doubtful meaning for some lay people and even for professionals and government personnel.
It is increasingly necessary to bring out a clearer concept of nutrition as a goal by itself, a primary goal. It is also an urgent need to have a new well-defined nutrition leader, a nutrition executive, and to call for better defined operational actions at the area.
Nutrition, in a broad perspective, has to do with all the mechanisms through which the living organisms receive and utilize the nutrients of their foods. Human nutrition has its roots in the agriculture, economics, etc., and adequate nutrition is fundamental for good health, learning potential, working capacity and certainly better quality of life.
Despite an increased knowledge in the area of Nutritional Sciences, data from the WHO/FAO point out that famine threat over 50 million persons and about 700 million are undernourished in the world today. The lack of food is the single major cause of death of 13 million children every year.
Another universal nutritional problem is the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies. More than 2 billion people suffer from iron and/or vitamin A and iodine deficiencies. Yet simple preventive programs are available and could avoid their severe nutritional consequences.
Considering that knowledge and means are available to control these malnutrition problems, I appeal today for a more prompt action of specialists, International Organizations and Governments on the subject through the following messages.
Message to Nutrition Training Institutions
The still high prevalence of malnutrition in the world requires a reappraisal of the training and engagement of the nutrition specialist. A new nutrition professional should be prepared to understand and correctly evaluate the multisectoral aspect of the present nutritional problem. This new specialist should have a high scientific background, technological and socioeconomic knowledge, need for the advance of the nutritional science but also requested for the implementation, follow up and evaluation of operational applied programs.
Message to International Organizations
International organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, should have a better coordination and critical analysis of their own work. Government personnel change very fast in developing countries, so deeper contacts with local nutrition scientists and academic institutions are highly desirable. The focus of their assistance should change from short visits to more working days for planning, development and evaluation of field projects and programs.
Message to Governments
Governments should be aware that nutrition problems are present both in developed and developing countries, but solutions always require a political decision to be implemented. There is an international pledge to fight malnutrition, governments should have a specific nutrition infrastructure prepared to deal with the subject. Nutrition is a primary goal and not always health and economic dependent. Local nutrition specialists and international organizations should be mobilized to guarantee the relevant solutions to nutrition problems.
As a conclusion, let me remind that nutrition is both an input and an outcome of national development and consequently of a better quality of life. Excellence of human resources will guarantee the implementation and success of nutrition programs in each country.
(Source: IUNS Communication, January 1994)