Thinking strategically about nutrition supports disease responses and more

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The following is a guest post by Heather B. Davis, MPH, and Emily A. Bobrow, PhD, MPH, of MEASURE Evaluation

Who has a strategic interest in nutrition? Is the world on course to meet global nutrition targets? What does it mean to have a robust national dialogue to support the development of practical nutrition solutions? How is nutrition intertwined with HIV and tuberculosis?

These are some of the questions that guided the development of Thinking Strategically About Nutrition: Key Issues in the Context of HIV and Tuberculosis, which shows that while we have made substantial progress, we still have a long way to go. The result of extensive reflection on why nutrition remains an issue of national and international importance, the report looks at the question of “what next?” from angles that include outlining guidance for national discussions that—ideally—will lead to strategic decisions and smart programs. The report examines implementation challenges, such as funding, and outlines free tools available online and how to use them. It also discusses how to develop strategies and plans through a consultative process that will lead to sustainable change.

Who will engage in sustainable change? Stakeholders in nutrition include those who work with representatives from government ministries such as health, agriculture, social services, or economic development; or those working with civil society representatives, funding organizations, or individual and community beneficiaries of nutrition programs. Other stakeholders might be individuals or organizations with an interest in or influence on government financing for nutrition or simply those who care about a country’s future stability and success.

Given the landscape of siloed funding focused on particular diseases (especially HIV and TB), this publication takes an important step back to consider the overall health of a client and delineates specific nutrition-related concerns that arise when considering HIV and TB programming, including the nutrition assessment, counseling, and support (NACS) approach.

“Food, nutrition, health, and well-being are inseparable,” the document notes. “And yet, nutrition continues to be an underappreciated and underleveraged component of health strategies. For nutrition to live up to its potential to improve individual, community, national, and global health and well-being, it is time for experts, advocates, policymakers and implementers, and public and private sectors to consistently think and act strategically about the positive contributions of nutrition.”

No matter where in the process your interest may lie, Thinking Strategically About Nutrition has advice and points the way towards tools to facilitate the way forward.

To read more about monitoring NACS, see: https://www.measureevaluation.org/resources/publications/tr-17-227

Heather Davis is the NACS portfolio program manager and Emily Bobrow is the senior technical specialist for evaluation and learning at MEASURE Evaluation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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