This issue of SCN News is devoted to nutrition goals and targets. This topic is both timely and important because two major upcoming international meetings will review achievements towards nutrition goals set in the 90s. These are the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children in September which marks the tenth anniversary of the Childrens Summit, and the World Food Summit: 5 Years Later meeting in Rome in November which will consider a mid-decade review of progress since the World Food Summit in 1996. I attended the Preparatory Committee meeting for the Special Session on Children in New York in June, and worked with nutrition colleagues to strengthen the nutrition content of the draft outcome document. This document now incorporates a strong nutrition message, with specific wording on micronutrient malnutrition as well as an emphasis on the prenatal period and prevention of low birthweight.
Both of these events will take stock of where we really are compared to where we had hoped to be. Progress reports covering key nutrition indicators will be published by many of the agencies and NGOs involved in the preparatory processes for these meetings. Progress is mixed. SCN News 22 presents the results of an informal email survey of opinions on the value of goals and targets themselves. I hope our readers find the collection of feature articles and interviews provocative. For the first time SCN News engaged a guest editor, Dr. Claudio Schuftan, who worked with the Secretariat in Geneva for one month. I want to thank him here for his efforts.
As SCN News 22 goes to press the United Nations General Assembly is preparing for a special session on June 25 to address the HIV/AIDS global pandemic. This is the first gathering of the General Assembly devoted to a public health crisis. While access to anti-retroviral drugs continues to receive a great deal of worldwide attention, as well as press coverage, the role of nutrition for families and communities living with HIV and AIDS tends to be overshadowed.
The SCN, at its annual session held in April in Nairobi, provided a forum for discussion of the role of nutrition in the HIV/AIDS care package. This symposium brought together the nutrition and the HIV/AIDS communities. Indeed Dr. Peter Piot, during his keynote address, remarked that he had never before addressed a nutrition audience in his 20 years of professional involvement in HIV/AIDS. The symposium provided a forum to discuss how nutrition programmes and networks can respond to the HIV/AIDS crisis and help to mitigate its worst effects. The SCN, as a collective body, prepared a statement on nutrition and HIV/AIDS for presentation at several of the round table discussions of the General Assembly. The Statement is reproduced on the back cover page. The full report of the symposium will be published by the Secretariat later this year as a Nutrition Policy Paper.
Also included in this issue of SCN News is a summary report from each of the eight Working Groups that met during the SCNs 28th annual session. Working Groups are the driving force of the SCN. Participating agencies and individuals take an active role in the work programme of the SCN through Working Groups. Recommendations for SCN action this year cover key issues including the assessment of adult malnutrition during emergencies, strengthening programmes to support exclusive breastfeeding, implementation of sub-regional action plans for capacity building and work on benchmarks and indicators for monitoring the realization of the rights to food, health and care.
Meetings of the SCNs Working Groups as well as the annual symposia are open to the public and now draw a large audience. Indeed, participation in Nairobi was the highest in the 24-year history of the SCN. The SCNs steering committee is trying to capture this spirit of open debate in a new name for the SCN. This change has been requested by the ACC, the parent body of the SCN, which has itself been restructured over the past six months. Stay tuned.
The SCNs 29th annual session will take place in Berlin, March 11 to 15, 2002, hosted by the Government of Germany in collaboration with the German Foundation for International Development and GTZ. The session will include a symposium on nutrition in the context of crisis and conflict. Our website will provide detailed information on the content of the programmes as it develops. Please plan to attend - I look forward to seeing you in Berlin.