WHO malnutrition initiative

The World Health Organization has launched a web-based information system it hopes will help prevent millions of people from suffering various forms of malnutrition, ranging from under-nutrition to obesity, every year.



One of the major challenges in fighting malnutrition has been the vast and often conflicting array of evidence and advice on nutrition information. The e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA) eliminates the inconsistent standards and provides authoritative guidelines to tackle malnutrition, said Francesco Branca, WHO's nutrition director.



"What we need to do is to make clear what are effective interventions,” Branca told journalists in Geneva ahead of the 10 August launch of the e-library at an Asian meeting on nutrition in Colombo, Sri Lanka.



eLENA covers the three main forms of malnutrition: under-nutrition, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and overweight and obesity.



“Several billion people are affected by one or more types of malnutrition,” said Ala Alwan, WHO's assistant director-general of Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health. “Countries need access to the science and evidence-informed guidance to reduce the needless death and suffering associated with malnutrition,” he said.



About 115 million pre-school children worldwide are underweight, while 190 million pre-school children are affected by vitamin A deficiency and 1.6 billion people have anaemia, mostly due to iron deficiency. An estimated 1.5 billion people are overweight, of whom 500 million are obese, according to WHO figures.



The eLENA project is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Canada-based Micronutrient Initiative and the government of Luxembourg.



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