International Symposium Examines Links between Nutrition and Economic Development
The American University of Armenia (AUA) School of Public Health (AUA SPH) hosted a two-day international symposium on May 26-27, 2014 entitled “Nutrition as a Key to Economic Development: The Case for Armenia,” which over 180 health professionals, program planners, and policy makers attended to increase their awareness on malnutrition in Armenia today. 

The event was organized and sponsored by the AUA School of Public Health, the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Fund for Armenian Relief (FAR), and World Vision Armenia. The co-sponsors of the event were Jinishian Memorial Foundation, Armenian Medical Fund, American Armenian Health Professionals Organization and JHM Charitable Foundation. The event had five sessions which covered childhood malnutrition, current assessments in childhood nutrition in Armenia, current nutrition interventions in Armenia, nutrition and non-communicable diseases, nutrition education, training, and capacity, and clinical issues in nutrition. 

Dr. Kim Hekimian from Columbia University Institute of Human Nutrition and AUA School of Public Health opened the international Symposium introducing the organizers, sponsors and her colleagues from Columbia University: “With this conference, we hope we will all gain new knowledge that will enrich our understanding of the field and that this knowledge will serve as a catalyst for future initiatives and collaborations in improving nutrition and health of the Armenian population.”  The Head of the Mother and Child Health Agency of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Armenia, Dr. Karine Saribekyan, offered welcoming remarks on behalf of the Ministry of Health. Associate Dean of the AUA School of Public Health Dr. Varduhi Petrosyan, shares, “This symposium was very unique: 1) it was the first one in Armenia, 2) covered the double burden of both under- and over-nutrition, 3) emphasized the life-cycle approach to proper nutrition and prevention of non-communicable diseases, and 4) brought together world known experts from the US and Armenia, health professionals from marzes and Yerevan, and health policy/decision makers.”

Attendees of the event learned about the current status of the “double burden” of malnutrition globally and in Armenia, the causes and consequences of under- and over- nutrition in Armenia, nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive policies and interventions relevant to Armenia’s present situation, the role of nutrition and lifestyle in communicable and non-communicable diseases, gaps in surveillance, data, training, and other areas to be addressed in further initiatives, and recommendations for interventions, capacity-building, and inter-sectoral partnerships for a nutrition action plan for Armenia. The presentations and videos from the symposium are available at http://ns2014.aua.am/videos-and-presentations/.

After the close of the conference, AUA School of Public Health hosted a Nutrition Stakeholders meeting, where nutrition-related program planners, policy makers and researchers in Armenia gathered to plan future initiatives, including the creation of a Nutrition Advisory Council.  

The symposium was covered by: 
Civilnet http://civilnet.am/nutrition-key-development-armenia/