Food Industry Asia (FIA) spoke with Professor Emorn Udomkesmalee, Co-chair of the 2016 Global Nutrition Report and Senior Advisor at the Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University, about the state of global nutrition and the actions needed moving forward.
How can the 2016 Global Nutrition Report’s 5 recommended calls to action be best applied in Asia?
Well, I think Asia is the perfect place to implement the calls for action of the Global Nutrition Report 2016. There’s a reason for it. The world is witnessing what we call “Asia rising”. Social economic development in Asia is coming up strong. Asia already has the political platform for commitment, in the form of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), in the form of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation). Also, the problem of malnutrition in Asia is indeed in multiple forms, which we have already advocated for.
Last year, in 2015, the world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end hunger, and to call for the ending of malnutrition in all its forms by 2030. Asia has the largest malnourished population on earth. This is where we should start. We are seeing many successful examples and experiences in countries such as India, China, Korea, Nepal, Bangladesh. There are countries in the ASEAN region that are moving forward very strongly with this agenda, and we should learn and be able to apply some of those base practices in Asia.
How can public-private partnerships support these calls to action?
I really think that public-private partnership really holds the key to how we can possibly increase knowledge generation, as well as the mechanism for putting out a healthy diet solution. We cannot ignore that the food business has a big role to play. And we would like to see that the population is able to access and afford good food that is of nutritional value. So this is the key, and we are still – I have to say, this is the mechanism in which we would like to see success – we need more success, and I’m very hopeful that Asia will lead the way.
How much more needs to be invested?
As a co-chair of the Global Nutrition Report, I would like to advocate for increasing investment to end malnutrition. Triple the commitment that we have right now, and it will go a long way; well worth it. We know for each dollar that you spend, you get $16 in return. Therefore, all those who are thinking about budgeting should really look at that accordingly. Thank you.
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