Report of the Sub-Committee on Nutrition at its Twenty-Fifth Session
II. Work in Progress: Summary of Discussion and Conclusions
Advisory Group on Nutrition (AGN) Report
The Chair of the Advisory Group on Nutrition (AGN) explained that the AGN held
two meetings last year. The first was in Kathmandu and the second in Montreal in
July on the occasion of the IUNS Conference. As AGN members were traveling to
the IUNS Conference anyway, costs to the SCN budget were very much reduced.
The AGN Chair presented results of the Montreal meeting where the
- The AGN Chair explained that the AGN worked closely with the SCN Secretariat
to identify Commission members, and reviewed contents of the Commission's work. It was
stressed that the AGN is responsible to and is a structural component of the
Commission, on the other hand, has a specific task and will not continue to function in
its current form once that task is completed.
- One AGN member (Dr Jak Jervell) presented main findings of the AGN's country
visits over the past year. Opportunities were taken to enquire and learn about
coordination among UN agencies at the country level, during visits to two countries. These
visits were planned in conjunction with other travel, i.e., at no cost to UN system. The
AGN members found that while there was often considerable coordination and cooperation, it
was on an ad hoc basis, and worked best in acute emergency situations. This
observation underlined the need for capacity building and a common approach in countries.
It was suggested that strong leadership from a national nutrition council (for example)
would be a step forward in some countries.
- The AGN felt the trips were useful to discuss coordination and should continue.
More publicity might be a useful way to create awareness of nutrition during these visits.
The AGN were cautioned not to take too superficial a view of country-level coordination
since bilaterals and NGOs, important actors in some countries, do not fall within the UN
Resident Coordinator system. The need for agreement on what problems to address
during these visits was emphasized. It was agreed that AGN members take advantage of
other opportunities to visit more countries focusing on those with successful experiences
in country coordination. Countries might be selected from amongst those
participating in the UNDAF pilot scheme. It was stressed that the purpose of the visits
would be to provide constructive help, not to conduct an evaluation.
- In order to try to answer the question "What can be done to reduce
malnutrition globally: speed the rate of decline and/or reverse the increase noted in some
regions?" the AGN reviewed a number of documents to identify approaches that were
successful. Documents chosen were flagged by SCN member agencies. The 1943 Hot Springs
Conference Report was cited as a visionary document by the AGN with poverty identified as
a root cause for malnutrition. Agricultural, food and nutrition, and health links were
very clearly made, and this was the basis for the founding of FAO.
- More recently published documents highlighted similar themes, such as:
- gender issues;
- environmental issues and sustainable agriculture;
- nutrition as outcome but also as input into human
- multi-faceted approach to nutrition and food
- orientation to food-based strategies;
- nutrition education.
- SCN members suggested that a wider range of documents could be reviewed by
the AGN including: material on the household and community-based component of IMCI
(UNICEF and WHO), "The Care Initiative" (UNICEF), and "Ending the
Inheritance of Hunger" (WFP).
- The AGN reviewed a paper prepared by FAO on using Food Balance Sheets (FBS) to
determine the micronutrient content of food supplies. This was a very useful
exercise, since some ideas to strengthen the FBS methodology were identified and
opportunities to incorporate new information in the FBS methodology became clear.
However, it was agreed that using FBS to calculate micronutrient availability figures is
premature, moreover the figures could be misinterpreted. The collaboration between the AGN
and FAO was useful, and should continue in order to further strengthen general FBS