Southeast Asia Nutrition Leadership Program (SEANLP):
Building Leadership for Better Nutrition Improvement in South East Asia
As a region where it houses nearly a quarter of world’s population and is one of the largest economies, Southeast Asia is reportedly to have shown much improvement on its population health indicators and nutritional status over the years. However, in terms of progress, over-nutrition is on the rise in every country, in conjunction with too slow decreasing rate of under-nutrition problems, as well as immense health inequities that persist in the region.
Nutritional well being has been set out as one of the key indicators of development. Indonesia, through the Ten Health Messages (10 Pesan Kesehatan) of our President, His Excellency Mr. Joko Widodo, commits that nutrition is the investment for the nation. It is therefore, mobilization of family at grass root level, synergistic budget allocation and management planning at meso/macro level, and reformation in the bureaucracy sector at all levels are stipulated to be the approaches to achieve health as a fundamental component for development in Indonesia.
The lessons learned show that the complexity of health and nutrition problems cannot be solved only with direct interventions. In addition, in the era of massive technology advancement and fast track globalization, new emerging social practices jeopardizing the people’s condition such as the silent killer of non-communicable diseases that complicate the etiology of the health and nutrition problems that requires innovative and up-to-date strategies. When we wish to improve the well-being of the population at a larger scale, we are talking about an improvement through social and economic development that calls for a systematic and holistic approach. Such an approach can only be accomplished through partnership with multi sectors and certainly nutrition is the concern beyond health sector alone.
Leadership in food and nutrition has been identified as a key factor to help reinforce action on nutrition in countries experiencing a high burden of malnutrition. Individuals from various sectors with good knowledge on nutrition and capacity to influence policies and their implementation, are urgently needed.
Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization, Regional Centre for Food and Nutrition (SEAMEO REFCON) with the support from Ministry of Education and Culture Republic of Indonesia, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Southeast Asia and other institutions from the region conducted the 12th South East Asian Nutrition Leadership Program [SEANLP] to empower nutritionists and other professionals to gain competencies in effective leadership, communication, and decision making skills. The SEANLP is conducted under the auspices of the European Nutrition Leadership Program (ENLP) and is part of the Global Nutrition Leadership Platform together with ENLP and African Nutrition Leadership Program (ANLP).
Since 2002, SEAMEO RECFON has successfully carried out 11 Leadership Programs with a total of 254 alumni from various countries and institutions in the SEA region and beyond. Some SEANLP alumni hold strategic positions in their country, and lead nutrition development programs. This year, the SEANLP has brought 28 participants from 10 ASEAN countries. The program runs from 4-8 August in Jakarta with this year’s theme of SEANLP “towards achieving SDG 2 through nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food system approaches”.
“The critical mass of future leaders invested through this program must be able to play significant roles in contributing to the regional and global development through improved nutrition and health situation” said the Secretary General of the Ministry of Education and Culture Republic of Indonesia Didik Suhardi, PhD at the opening ceremony of the 12th SEANLP. Such an encouragement is then translated into a future plan of action initiated by the 12th SEANLP alumni addressed during the inauguration ceremony. As His Excellency PM Justin Trudeau ever said “to do small things in big ways”, the alumni pledge to contribute to the provision of positive content in the social media platform by dispatching regular nutrition and health messages for lay people. This small step to be undertaken envisions the attainment of healthy life style of the general public in the long run. For facilitating and safe-guarding this plan of action to come to realization, the new batch of SEANLP alumni appointed Mr. Zakaria Kamis from Brunei Darussalam and Dr. Aria Kekalih from Indonesia as President and Vice President.
About SEAMEO REFCON:
SEAMEO RECFON was established in 1967 as SEAMEO TROPMED Regional Centre for Community Nutrition, and transformed into Regional Centre for Food and Nutrition in 2011. It is one among the 21 SEAMEO Centres located throughout SEA region. It is a unit hosted by Ministry of Education and Culture RI and located in Universitas Indonesia with a mission to conduct education, capacity building, research and information dissemination in food and nutrition through partnership for sustainable human resource development. As of today, over 3000 alumni working in nutrition, health, agriculture, education and other related disciplines from SEA countries and beyond have been exposed to and benefiting the Center’s program and activities.
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