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Gender Equity in Global Health

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Back in January of 2020, our own Director of Product, Ashley Darnell, shared about her experience and recent manuscript publication with FHI360’s Alive and Thrive Program in Vietnam. Since then, Darnell’s time and research have obtained further publication in a second manuscript that delves deeper into the varying health policies in Southeast Asia and their subsequent effects on the region. Check out her most recent update below!

“In 2020, the impact of varying health policies when addressing a common goal is undeniable. However, in 2017 when I began working alongside the Alive & Thrive team in Vietnam, a sector focused on maternal and child health within with FHI360, an in-depth comparative policy assessment of National Nutrition Strategies across ASEAN had not been conducted. As outlined in the manuscript, “Countries in Southeast Asia have high burdens of malnutrition (Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN], European Union, UNICEF, & World Health Organization [WHO], 2016; UNICEF, 2019). For example, in the region’s 11 countries, nine have a high or very high prevalence of stunting (≥20%), nine have medium, high, or very high prevalence of wasting (≥5%), and five countries have medium, high, or very high prevalence of overweight (≥5%) among children under 5 years of age (UNICEF, 2019). The prevalence of children under 5 suffering from micronutrient deficiencies in Southeast Asia is almost 50% (ASEAN et al., 2016; UNICEF, 2019). Rates of malnutrition among school‐aged children and women are also high in this region (UNICEF, 2019). Seven of the 11 Southeast Asian countries belong to the lowest 20th percentile of height for men and women among 129 countries (N. C. D. Risk Factor Collaboration, 2016),1” presenting a valuable opportunity to review the policies in place at a national level in 9 Asian countries as they compare to regional and international recommendations.”

“At Alive & Thrive, we scrupulously analyzed the existing policies for Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, Laos, Timor Leste, Indonesia, and the Philippines. We assessed the context and objectives of all existing health interventions relating to maternal and child nutrition to identify how closely aligned these national efforts were. The outcome was recently published in the Journal of Maternal and Child Nutrition, titled National nutrition strategies that focus on maternal, infant, and young child nutrition in Southeast Asia do not consistently align with regional and international recommendations.”

“In this manuscript, we found that despite the continued alignment of ASEAN countries in regional efforts, the NNS did not consistently align when it came to maternal and child health interventions. We proposed that establishing a database of health intervention information on a regional and international level would not only help cross-check for effectiveness when correlating with other national statistics but also help increase alignment and overall knowledge in the application of health intervention through policy structures.

Join us in congratulating Ashley in her accomplishments in Public Health, and check out the manuscript in the citation below.

1 Nguyen, TT, Darnell, A, Weissman, A, et al. National nutrition strategies that focus on maternal, infant, and young child nutrition in Southeast Asia do not consistently align with regional and international recommendations. Matern Child Nutr. 2020;e12937. https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12937

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