The twelfth NIPN virtual webinar, entitled "Adolescent Nutrition and Anemia," was recently held on January 26, 2023, at 2:00 PM EAT. The Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the GIZ organized the event. Experts from around the world gathered to discuss adolescent nutrition with regard to anemia and its potential causes. These include dietary deficiency, hygiene and sanitation, inadequate access to nutrients, and infectious diseases.
The speakers of the webinar, Ms. Kesso Gabrielle van Zutphen-Küffer, MSc, Knowledge and Research Manager, Sight and Life, Switzerland, and Ph.D. candidate from Wageningen University and Research, who highlighted several key findings from current research. She demonstrated that iron deficiency anemia is the leading cause of disability-adjusted life years lost for girls aged 10–19 years. She explained that heavy menstrual blood loss is a neglected issue that can significantly increase adolescent anemia rates. She emphasized the need to invest more in research and data gaps; evidence-based interventions, and policies for program sustainability.
Moreover, Dr. Abdulaziz Adish, Africa Region Deputy Director for Nutrition International, explained the African experience and interventions in place to address adolescent nutrition and anemia. He discussed topics including Weekly Iron Folic Acid Supplementation (WIFAS) and its effect size of a 35% reduction in relative risk of anemia, gender-responsive nutrition education, keeping girls in school, deworming for school performance, improving WASH, menstrual hygiene management, overcoming gender barriers to school attendance, and delaying early marriage and adolescent pregnancy as effective interventions and actions to address adolescent nutrition and anemia.
Dr. Sisay Sinamo, senior program manager at the Seqota Declaration Federal Program Delivery Unit of the Ministry of Health, explained adolescent nutrition and anemia in the Ethiopian context. He explained that different interventions are in place to address adolescent nutrition and anemia. School health, nutrition sensitization and counseling, school gardening, school WASH, deworming, WIFAS, school feeding, prevention of early marriage and pregnancy, and construction of schools to increase adolescent girls’ stay in school are the major interventions available.
Lastly, the participants raised different questions and discussed how global, African, and Ethiopian policy initiatives could be enhanced for nutrition-related interventions such as dietary diversity, WIFAS, and other nutrition-specific and sensitive nutrition interventions. Speakers emphasized the need to address the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition and take the opportunity of intervention at the adolescent level to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition.
The virtual webinar was attended by 87 participants from government, non-government, research, and academic institutions. To access the presentations, please click HERE; to access the Q&A session, click HERE, and click the link Here to access related documents. AWHN, FAQs, WIFAS