Two weeks ago, I attended the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in Rome. The conference, which was jointly sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), culminated in the acceptance of the Rome Declaration by most of the countries in the world. The Rome Declaration is designed as a blue print for countries to help eradicate malnutrition (both undernutrition and overweight/obesity) worldwide. A lofty goal, to say the least, but one to which all health professionals, as well as governments, should be paying attention.
Health ministers from many countries, as well as dignitaries including the Pope, spoke at the conference, lending gravitas to the proceedings. As a representative of the egg industry, I was proud to be a part of the rather large livestock/agriculture contingent in attendance. In private discussions, I spoke about the research that the American Egg Board is currently supporting to feed high-quality protein to orphaned children in Third World countries and the success we have had in pilot studies enhancing the growth rate, as well as markers of cognitive performance, in children who generally receive very little protein as a part of their normal diets. These are the sorts of efforts that, as folks attending the Conference agreed, can go a long way in eradicating hunger and malnutrition around the world.
If you’re not familiar with the ICN2 conference or the Rome Declaration I’d encourage you to view the Rome Declaration document at http://www.fao.org/3/a-ml542e.pdf. As health professionals, this certainly seems like an effort and an agenda to get behind in any way possible. The impact that this document ultimately has on issues related to world hunger and malnutrition remains to be seen, but the impact that health professionals can have in their local communities and beyond certainly seems more attainable. If nothing else, it is both interesting and beneficial to learn more about the goals and outputs of the ICN2 conference.