Friday, November 16, 2012
Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa (NNIA) hosted a scientific conference for some 150 health care professionals in Uganda, to discuss Maternal and Child Nutrition.
During the event, leading scientists presented the latest information showing the importance of good nutrition during the first 1000 days of life, from conception to a child’s second birthday. It is during this time that the foundations are laid for health, growth and development throughout life. More specifically, in Uganda, better nutrition during this crucial early period could have economic benefits and a significant impact on mortality rates in the under 5s, 60 per cent of which can be linked to under nutrition.
The scientific presentations were followed by the presentation of the annual NNIA Awards that recognise African health care professionals for their contribution in the field of nutrition.
The 2012 NNIA Awards
The Community Nutrition Award went to Uganda’s Professor Joyce Kikafunda for her key role in advocating action against malnutrition in Uganda. She developed a community-nutrition model called ‘The Gender Integrated Nutrition and Agriculture’ (GINA), that tackles malnutrition at low cost by using a community based, multi-sectoral, and integrated approach. GINA is currently being used to design the five-year Uganda Community Connector Project (CCP) that aims to reach more than 81,000 households.
“The GINA model is very well thought through and considers the key drivers of food insecurity, malnutrition, and poverty. The model is simple, practical, and easy to scale-up,” said Prof. Anabwani, the NNIA scientific board chairperson.
Professor Joyce Kikafunda is an Agriculturist, Food Processing and Nutrition Scientist from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of Makerere University.
The Best Scientific Publication Award went to Dr. Ngaha Augustin for his novel research: an “Evaluation of the supplementation of Breastmilk with pre formula in the nutrition of Low Birth Weights”. The study involved a prospective longitudinal cohort where the impact of fortifying breastmilk with protein, energy and minerals (through a pre formula) was evaluated on the growth patterns of low birth weight infants.
During the study, 70 babies were divided into two groups with one receiving the fortified breastmilk, and the second unfortified breastmilk. The results revealed a statistically significant higher average weight gain per day including better brachial perimeter growth; all characterised by a shorter hospital stay in the first group. To our knowledge this is the first study of its kind conducted in the African continent and furthermore it influences both clinical nutrition practices as well as encourages more research in this specific field.
Dr Augustin is a consultant paediatrician and the head of University Of Montages De Bangangté’s Medical Division in Cameroon. Maternal and child nutrition is at the heart of all his responsibilities and he regularly trains and coaches the health workers on the hospital protocols relating to the nutritional management of low birth weight infants in the neonatal wards.