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SEAMEO RECFON takes part in the UKRI GCRF Action against Stunting Hub

A recent commitment on a collaborative research lead by the London International Development Centre (LIDC) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) under Action Against Stunting Hub puts SEAMEO RECFON's one of the flagship programs called Early Childhood Care, Nutrition, and Education (ECCNE) on the international spotlight as this collaboration will be undertaken in India, Indonesia, and Senegal.

Read more about this interdisciplinary collaborative research here

Here is the full partner lists of other UKRI GCRF Global Interdisciplinary Research Hubs



Celebrating the Indonesia’s National Health Day with the investment of nutrition education at early age

The high prevalence of under and overnutrition problems that are further recognized as the triple burden of diseases in the recent Global Nutrition Report 2017 is the manifestations of the increasing unhealthy behaviors which include the long-standing habit of low-quality diet.  The latest Basic Health Research (RISKESDAS) data in 2018 show that vegetable consumption is not improving as compared to the situation in 2013 where more than 90% of Indonesians over the age of 10 years consumed vegetables less than recommended. The Community Movement for Healthy Life (Gerakan Masyarakat Hidup Sehat - Germas) which has incorporated massive campaigns on vegetable and fruit consumption since 2017 should be more encouraged to affect all levels of the society.

In line with the celebration of the 54th National Health Day this year, the Government of Indonesia through the Ministry of Health initiated a series of activities with the theme "Aku cinta sehat: Ayo hidup sehat, mulai dari kita", which translates as I love to be healthy, let’s have a healthy life, starting from ourselves.  This theme emphasizes the importance of raising awareness to the public about healthy lifestyle including maintaining a balanced diet and routine physical activities.

In this occasion, SEAMEO RECFON received a visit from young visitors from TK Persiapan of Duren Sawit Jakarta on November 14th, 2018. They are kindergarten school children aged around 4-6 years.  This short visit embraced nutrition education sessions through playing, singing and dancing that conveyed a message on a balanced diet.  After an introduction of healthy and nutritious foods, the program is followed by a gardening activity.  Some parents who also attended the visit felt grateful since the program involved some useful and practical activities, not only for the children to understand the practice of balanced diet from an early age, but also for parents as food providers at home. The activity of planting various vegetable seeds was regarded as very exciting by the children. They also looked proud when they brought home the planted seed as a souvenir from this activity. The school principal also emphasized that utilizing the curiosity sense of this young children to introduce the concept of balanced nutrition at early age was one effective method of learning.

Investment in nutrition education targeted to early age group is one of the priorities at SEAMEO RECFON.  This initiative will be further enhanced with the collaboration among SEAMEO RECFON, HIMPAUDI and the Directorate of Early Childhood and Community Education Ministry of Education RI.  Recently, SEAMEO RECFON and HIMPAUDI started a national assessment called Uji Kompentensi Gizi (UKG) on October 18th, 2018 (10.18.18) among early childhood teachers specifically on nutrition competency.  The result of this assessment will be teacher’s competency mapping for further program design such as capacity building to enhance teachers’ competency in delivering health and nutrition messages effectively to the children and their parents.


Systematic Review and Evidence-Informed Decision Making for the Public

Systematic Review and Evidence-Informed Decision Making for the Public

Will school-milk program works to improve nutritional status and cognitive performance of Indonesian school children? Should adolescent school girls be given iron pills? Should poor pregnant women be given cash transfer or in-kind transfer to improve their food intake? How should supplementary feeding among children and women be designed to reduce stunting? Is it needed at all? In what circumstances will it be crucial? There are so many questions and so many decisions to make by the policy makers, especially in the field of public health, including public health nutrition.  Indeed, none of those questions are easy to answer, especially when it involves allocating a lot of resources for the decision to be implemented.

Ideally, all those questions should actually be answered by scientific evidence before any public policy is made, in order that public policy be categorized as evidence-based policy. Evidence is crucial to good public policy in two respects: firstly it helps policymakers work out which policy options are likely to achieve the best results, and secondly, it helps in getting a policy implemented in circumstances where there is opposition to it.

However, translating research into practices and policy is not easy. Many opportunities to use evidence for public policy are missed. As was mentioned by Lee Jong-Wook (Former Director General of World Health Organization for 2003-2006), there is a big gap between what has been known scientifically and what has been put to practice. Moreover Lee Jong-Wok stated that “action without knowledge is wasted effort” and “knowledge without action is wasted resources”. Bridging the know-do gap is one of the most important challenges for public health nutrition in this century. 

The next questions are how to bridge this gap between what have been produced by researchers and what should be decided by policy makers? One of the effort to take scientific evidence to policy makers is by putting the scientific evidence in a format that can easily be digested by policy makers, for example in a form of policy brief. Development of policy brief needs to be based on extensive reviews of evidence, among others in the form a systematic review of scientific evidence. Results of individual studies need to be interpreted and translated alongside the body of evidence. Moreover, single studies rarely provide sufficient evidence for practice change (especially small studies in specific populations).  Thus, stronger evidence is sometimes needed to support policy and it can take a form of systematic reviews of several studies.

Systematic reviews are summaries of research evidence that address a clearly formulated question using systematic and explicit methods to: (i) identify, select, and critically appraise relevant research; and (ii) collect and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review. 
Systematic reviews reduce the risk of bias in selecting and interpreting the results of studies, reduce the risk of being misled by chance in identifying studies for inclusion, or the risk of focusing on only a subset of relevant evidence, provide a critical appraisal of the available research, and place individual studies in the context of all of the relevant evidence. This way, systematic reviews increase certainty about the effects of an intervention. Systematic reviews of research evidence are a more appropriate source of research evidence for decision-making than a single research study or selected set of studies.

Considering the importance of bridging the know-do gap, the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Food and Nutrition (SEAMEO RECFON) conducted a post graduate training on Systematic Review and Evidence-Informed Decision Making in Nutrition on April 23-27, 2018. The training was given by DR. Tari Turner (Senior Research Fellow at Cochrane Australia and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Health Research and Policy System), DR. Grace Wangge (Research Manager of SEAMEO RECFON) and DR. Indah Suci Widyahening (Lecturer at Department of Community Medicine Faculty of Medicine and Head of International Relation Office, Universtas Indonesia). The training was attended by 23 participants with various backgrounds from Indonesia, Lao PDR and Malaysia. The training was expected to equipped participants with knowledge and skills to conduct a systematic review of scientific evidence starting from statement of objectives, searching and identification of individual studies, study selection, identification of risk of bias and systematic synthesis of review results for both quantitative and qualitative studies. The method includes lecture and hands-on practice of development of scientific review protocol and conducting scientific review.  At the end of the training, the participants were introduced to knowledge on how to translate results of systematic reviews into a policy brief.



Collaboration in nutrition and health between SEAMEO RECFON and Thailand

SEAMEO RECFON’s envoy Dr. Muchtaruddin Mansyur and Ms Evi Ermayani visited Thailand on 26-30 March 2018 to envision specific collaboration in the field of nutrition and health.  For detailed activity report (in Indonesian language) presented to Prof. Dr. Mustari, MPd, the Attaché of Education and Culture, at the Embassy of Republic of Indonesia in Bangkok, please click here.

Further elaboration on the ASEAN collaboration in the field of occupational health which was also attended by Dr. Muchtaruddin Mansyur representing Faculty of Medicine Universitas Indonesia is available here.



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