Pandemic nutrition and food security in focus

Participants in a six-month nutrition and food security award program led by Griffith University come together for a preliminary workshop and official welcome online.

A key group of Sri Lankan health and nutrition professionals will take part in a six-month nutrition and food security award program led by Griffith University in collaboration with the Australian Government and local university partners.

Dr Thomas Davis, First Secretary, Development Cooperation, Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka, said the short course was an important step in the current climate.

“The pandemic is acting as a significant stress test of local and global food systems and supply chains,” he told participants at a preliminary workshop held recently.

“This is a critical area for Sri Lanka for its economy and in terms of human development.”

Professor Sarah Todd, Vice President (Global) at Griffith University, said the University was committed to supporting capacity development across the Asia Pacific region, and contributing to the achievement globally of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Short courses such as this are a critical component of Griffith’s internationalisation activities,” she said.

The ‘Multisectoral Approaches to Nutrition and Food Security’ course will be delivered by Griffith University’s International Business Development Unit drawing on expertise from Griffith Health, Griffith Sciences, Griffith Business School, University of Peradeniya and Uva Wellassa University of Sri Lanka.

Participants include 23 emerging and middle management leaders representing government, non-government and private sector organisations, with existing responsibility for the formulation and implementation of nutrition and food security.

Joshepkumar Thamilini

Joshepkumar Thamilini, a Nutritionist and Manager of the Education and Awareness Program at the Sri Lankan Diabetes Association is hoping to “gain the practical knowledge to reduce the impact of food insecurity and to actively participate in advocacy activities to formulate policy actions in Sri Lanka.”

Joshepkumar and others will take part in a range of live (online) interactive sessions consisting of presentations, workshops and discussions along with mentoring by Griffith and Sri Lankan experts and an online symposium.

“Colleagues from across the University have responded to the challenges posed by ongoing travel restrictions,” Professor Todd said of efforts to deliver the course online, given COVID-19.

“While I look forward to the day that we can again welcome short course participants onshore, I am delighted that we can support the development of Sri Lanka’s health and nutrition professionals in this way.”

Interviews with relevant community and government stakeholders and the filming of additional resources will be added to the online learning material.

The purpose of the six-month course, which runs until November, is to promote an understanding of the benefits of how an integrated multi-sectoral approach, combined with gender-sensitive programming, can improve nutritional and food security outcomes.

The development of inter-sectoral relationships/networks and appropriately resourced platforms to achieve greater impact for better nutrition and food security, will be important themes.

In November participants will meet again online to present their ‘Return To Work’ plans for future implementation in their work places.

The Australia Awards Short Course for South Asia is funded by the Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Australia Awards Short Course opportunities build valuable people-to-people links both within Australia and within the Indo-Pacific region, enabling mid-career professionals and emerging leaders to tap into Australian expertise, gaining valuable skills and knowledge.

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