Development of the first food and nutrition action plan for the WHO European Region



Access to safe healthy food is a human right underpinned by HEALTH21. Food is also a commodity that contributes to a country’s national economy, so enormous economic interests are at stake in food production, processing, marketing and distribution. The role of the health sector is to help all stakeholders, whose main priority may not necessarily be health, to recognize the important role food plays regarding health. The health sector can only do this by developing evidence-based strategies that ensure health is central to all food policies. The WHO Food and Nutrition Action Plan outlines a possible strategy to assist Member States protect the most vulnerable, including infants, children, pregnant and lactating women, low income groups, food-intolerant people and older people. Unless food and nutrition plans are implemented, unsafe food and poor nutrition will be responsible for an increased economic burden from food-related morbidity and premature mortality. In November 1999, representatives ofnearly 50 Me mber States in the WHO European Region gathered in Malta to discuss Europe’s first comprehensive food and nutrition action plan. The participants contributed to the draft Food and Nutrition Action Plan for the WHO European Region, discussed how to ensure the support of all WHO Member States for it, and considered how national food and nutrition coordination mechanisms could be organized in each country.