PAHO aims to improve impact of nutrition programs in Latin America

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in collaboration with George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health and the Yale School of Public Health, with financing from the Government of Canada, are working to improve the efficacy of nutrition programs throughout Latin America.

According to the Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security​ in Latin America and the Caribbean 2017, currently 6.1 million children under the age of five are living with chronic malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean, and another 3.9 million are overweight.

The organizations have taken a targeted approach by implementing a mixed online/on-site educational course, called “Evaluation and Quality Assurance of Nutrition Programs”​, for a selected group of health professionals from the Ministries of Health of Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

According to PAHO​, the selected participants are already implementing nutrition programs in their own countries, as part of Integrated Health Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean, a joint PAHO/Government of Canada project to improve the health and nutrition of vulnerable populations of women, children and adolescents.

Continuous monitoring of nutrition intervention and education

The initial four-month training, which includes a one-week on-site workshop in Ecuador in December 2018, will utilize the Program Impact Pathway (PIP) methodology. PIP methodology can help identify roadblocks within nutrition program implementation and solutions to overcome those issues to reach intended impact, according to course leaders. 

Dr. Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, professor and director of the Global Health Program at Yale School of Public Health, and a course instructor shared that the course "introduces the PIP methodology to Latin America to better understand and evaluate their food and nutrition programs, and ultimately to improve food security for all considering the social determinants of health.”

Throughout the course, each country will develop a proposal for a continuous monitoring and quality assurance system for nutrition intervention, which participants will commit to implementing during the first quarter of 2019.

“This program will enable participants to learn about continuous evaluation and its application to nutrition policies and programs in several countries,”​ added Dr. Uriyoán Colón Ramos, associate professor of nutrition and global health at the George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“Furthermore, the course will increase knowledge of the double burden of malnutrition and obesity.”

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