Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) hosted its annual SUN Movement Global Gathering earlier this year to highlight issues related to nutrition and food security as well as draw political attention to the efforts of SUN-affiliated nations in the field of nutrition. Among the attendees of the SUN Global Gathering were the three winners of the Nutrition Champions Award. Scaling Up partnered with the Transform Nutrition Research Consortium to accept and review nominations from all over the world for “the ‘unsung heroes’ of nutrition—individuals who are innovating or influencing and whose work has started to make a real difference in their locality in recent years for improved nutrition.”
The champions—Luis Enrique Monterroso from Guatemala; Banda Ndiaye from Senegal; and Terry Wefwafwa form Kenya—were announced at SUN meetings during the UN General Assembly.
Luis Enrique Monterroso is Guatemala’s Secretary of the Food Security and Nutrition Secretariat/SESAN. He oversees the National Zero Hunger Pact, which was implemented in 2012 and is aimed at reducing malnutrition in children under the age of five, as well as addressing underlying economic and infrastructural issues of undernutrition. Monterroso views the issue of nutrition as a problem that has implications—and impacts—that extend beyond the health of individuals: “If you end malnutrition, you end poverty.”
After implementing Senegal’s first micronutrient program to benefit childhood nutrition during his time at World Vision, Banda Ndiaye became the Micronutrient Initiative’s Sahel Director in 2007. Before this appointment, Ndiaye organized NGOs and university professors in support of the effort to end childhood malnutrition, and established National Micronutrient Day in Senegal. “I share this recognition, that I am very proud of, with many partners who I have the honor of working with to improve the nutritional status of the most vulnerable in Senegal and the Sahel countries,” said Ndiaye in accepting his award. “Let’s make sure we will not miss this opportunity generated by the momentum of the SUN movement to work together with passion and commitment to scale up nutrition.”
Terry Wefwafwa has been the Head of the Division of Nutrition for Kenya’s Department of Public Health and Nutrition since 2008. During her time in office, Wefwafwa has coordinated government and outside stakeholders in partnership to conduct the country’s first Comprehensive Nutrition Situation Analysis, and develop the resulting Nutrition Action Plan. Wefwafwa also advocated and facilitated the passage of Kenya’s Breast Milk Substitutes Regulation and Control Bill, as well as legislation making food fortification mandatory throughout the country.
The Champions were joined at the Global Gathering by representatives from countries that had officially joined the SUN Movement and formerly committed to scaling up nutrition for their citizens. AllAfrica, an African news aggregate, summed up the goal of the Nutrition Champions Award and its importance to the effort of improved global nutrition: “Nutrition requires coordinated action across different sectors and from national to community levels and strong leadership is essential to effectiveness. Yet we rarely recognise and celebrate that leadership. The award aims to begin changing that.”