Prioritising Public Health Nutrition: National Conclave on PHN

Prioritising Public Health Nutrition: National Conclave on PHN

Shrestha Mohapatra | Feb 03, 2020

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The National conclave on Public Health Nutrition: Enriching the cycle of research, Public Policy and Practice, organised by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in collaboration with UNICEF and Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA), was held from 29th-30th January in the TIIR conference room. It had carefully crafted themes that covered global, national, regional and even local issues on nutrition that are of wider policy significance, and of interest to international agencies, national and regional governments, public and private sector entities, local communities and NGOs. The objective behind organising this conclave was to bring together leading academicians, practitioners, social scientists and researchers to exchange and share their experiences and research outcomes on different aspects of public health nutrition, public policy and human development.

The conclave began with the lighting of the lamp by Prof. S.K. Patel, Dean Acad, Dr Jalandhar Pradhan, HoD HS and Principle Investigator; Guest of Honour, Dr Ravi Verma, Regional Director, International Centre for Research on Women, New Delhi; Chief Guest, Prof. Arvind Pandey, Former Director, National Institute of Medical Statistics, New Delhi; Prof. P.K. Sahu, Mr Robert Johnston, Nutrition specialist at UNICEF.

Mr Sourav Bhattacharya, one of the organisers from UNICEF, shared his experience about the conclave.

I’m the nutrition specialist at UNICEF and I co-designed CoE PHN with Prof. Jalandhar Pradhan. I was involved more in the technical aspect like releasing the books of proceedings. Bringing together policy makers and researchers to share dialogue on data available on areas regarding further research as over nutrition and undernutrition co-existing in a population has become a big problem in India. There were 2 sessions basically, the first one regarding equity issues related to interventions regarding health and nutrition reaching the most marginalised population, and the other session dealt with a new dimension about the responsibility of media to showcase stories promoting better nutrition and how the practitioners should speak to the media so that it understands the gravitas of the issue.  

Dr Jalandhar Pradhan shared his vision about the conclave:

The agenda was to talk about Public health nutrition at Tribal Health level and how media should address issues. For eg: Everybody knows handwashing is required for sanitation but the media should aim to spread this awareness for tribal people and villagers. The media should disseminate knowledge effectively. With my dedicated team of students and CoE PHN, we have organised this conclave. I’m very thankful to UNICEF and CoE for Tribal Studies for helping us.

With six sessions held, the conclave oversaw participation of about 120 members from all over the country. It dealt with distinct themes from Dietary Diversity of Women and Children to Health Care Services for Tribals in Odisha.

Satroopa Sathpathy, a student pursuing her master’s degree, who was hosting the conclave said:

The event went extremely smooth, save for some technical glitches. There were international speakers from abroad. Now that we’re pursuing our Masters, it’ll definitely help us in the future as it’ll push us towards the line of research.

Mr Robert Johnston, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF has over 20 years of experience in PHN in developing countries, shared his opinions about the conclave:

This was a very important conference talk about the unique conditions of malnutrition present in the tribal sectors of Odisha. We also see cases of unique cases of over-nutrition and we need to spread awareness at the state level. This is where CoE PHN comes in the picture. Most of us don’t know what we eat and how much we eat and how it affects us. To spread awareness about nutrition and public health, the media plays an important role in publicising development stories. In other countries, we have health books and cook books. So I’m excited to see what India will do in the following years to step up their level and talk about dietary measures.

With six sessions held, the conclave oversaw participation of about 120 members from all over the country. It dealt with distinct themes from Dietary Diversity of Women and Children to Health Care Services for Tribals in Odisha. The second day of the conclave shifted its focus on how the gap between the media and the tribal sector of the society should be bridged to promote PHN in terms of malnutrition. The conclave ended with a Round Table Discussion on ‘Reflecting on the Role of Media for Prevention of all forms of Malnutrition’, presided by Chair members, Prof. Mrinal Chatterjee, Mr Dilip Bisoi and Ms Radhika Shrivastava, with Discussants from various media channels like Rudra Prassana Rath, State communication consultant; Bibekananda Das, Utkal Mail; Raja Mohanty, The Statesman; Sheikh Mohammed Niyaz, Radio Bulbul; Baidyanath Mishra, Koshal Horizon; Surama Mishra, Paschimanchal; Priyadarshini Pati, Nation First; Chakradhar Sahoo, State Communication Consultant.

Ms Radhika Shrivastava, Communication, Advocacy and Partnership Specialist, shared her experience as a chair member of the conference:

I had a wonderful experience. It was my first time vising NIT Rourkela and it’s a wonderful campus. This CoE PHN is one of its kind and it’s making a huge impact for Odisha. We had different speakers from different places with different areas of expertise. There was a lot of cross-learning as there were a variety of topics discussed. I work for UNICEF and my role as a communications and Advocacy specialist was to take part in the media session and chairing the round table with journalists.

The discussion started with Mr Prassana Rath, State Communication consultant, talking about reducing space for development stories in media despite media branching out to various forms and how technocrats choose to filter out the news which doesn’t look ‘pretty’ on paper. It was a very healthy discussion which marked the end of the successfully held Conclave.

Team MM congratulates the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and CoE Public Health Nutrition for organising the National conclave on Public Health Nutrition: Enriching the cycle of research, Public Policy and Practices.        

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