Canadian NGO’s celebrated for their excellent work to combat malnutrition in developing nations
At this years’ annual Maternal and Newborn Health Week Reception in Parliament
OTTAWA, May 3rd, 2017 –The Honourable Dr. Asha Seth marked International Maternal and Newborn Health Week in Parliament by cohosting a reception with her parliamentary colleague Senator Norman Doyle. This annual celebration is a continuation of Senator Seth’s unanimously passed Senate motion to recognize the second week in May as a month to educate Canadians about issues that mothers and their children face, both at home and abroad.
This year’s remembrance of International Maternal and Newborn Health Week had special significance as Dr. Seth had recently returned from a two-week working visit to India. During her trip, Dr. Seth met with various levels of government, stakeholders, diplomats, medical associations and doctors, as well as making site visits to Canadian NGO’s operating on the ground in India to provide support against malnutrition. There she noted that much work is being done at a grassroots level to overcome cultural ambiguity regarding the assistance being provided.
In her opening remarks, Senator Seth passionately addressed her guests “This year has indeed been an exciting one in the world of Maternal and Newborn Health Care- or MNCH. Work started by the Parliamentary Nutrition Champions has continued to bring awareness to issues pertaining to nutrition both domestically and globally. We have seen sustained funding under Canada’s International Assistance Review.”
“2017 has been a watershed year for me personally, as I travelled to India to visit sites where Canadian NGO’s are yielding tangible results at the grassroots level.” said the Honourable Dr. Asha Seth. “Canada continues to be at the forefront of innovation for solutions to global hunger- something of which we can all be proud!”
Senator Jim Munson did a masterful job of Master of Ceremonies for the evening, first introducing the Honourable Jane Philpott, Canada’s minister of health, who made an impromptu stop at the reception. Minister Philpott congratulated Dr. Seth for her continued work to bring awareness to MNCH, and pledged Canada’s support going forward in finding tangible solutions for malnutrition globally, especially for adolescent women.
The keynote address this year was given by world renowned food engineer, Dr. Levente Diosady. A professor emeritus of the University of Toronto, Dr. Diosady is the ‘father’ of double-iodized salt; a food supplement engineered in his Toronto lab, which is distributed widely globally, and in particular in the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh, where Dr. Seth spent her formative years. Dr. Diosady engaged the crowd with an interactive presentation, outlining the process, but also further developments under way to combat malnutrition.
Dr. Diosady, who has travelled six times to India, used the province of Uttar Pradesh as an example. By his own estimation, currently 25% of the population receive nutrition equal to that the average Canadian receives. That means in a population of 200 million that leaves approximately 150 million people vulnerable to malnutrition, which, during the first five formative years of life can have lasting effects and developmental side-effects. Canada is working hard with the government of Uttar Pradesh to give each of its citizens the best possible nutritional tools for development.
Kristen Ostling of Nutrition International (formerly the Micronutrient Initiative) thanked Dr. Seth for her support of their international programming, and offered some words regarding their recent rebranding on the occasion of their 25th anniversary.
A statement was delivered in the Senate Chamber by event co-host Norman Doyle to mark the occasion of International Maternal and Newborn Health Week.
International Maternal and Newborn Health Week is marked each year during the second week of May, coinciding with Mother’s Day.