In Africa, Choices International currently operates in three countries: Nigeria, Ghana, and Zambia. A secretariat based in Lagos, Nigeria coordinates all activities in the continent.
In Nigeria, we partner with the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) on their Front-of-Pack (FOP) labeling, the heart logo which is adapted based on our international Choices criteria. Also, we are a corporate member of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN). We are currently exploring the possibility to support the National Home Grown School Feeding Program (NHGSFP) in Nigeria to improve the nutritional value of school meals and food available in the school environment. We are supporting WFP Zambia on public-private collaboration and the Good Food logo launch, a joint initiative with the government of Zambia. In Ghana, we are collaborating with Sight and Life on the Obaasima initiative, a project developed by ‘Affordable Nutritious Foods for Women (ANF4W).
We want to reach out to more countries in Africa to seek collaborations with scientists, governments, food industries, and other relevant organizations. The Secretariat provides guidance and training in the development of national criteria and how these criteria can be used in national nutrition policies such as foods offered in school canteens, marketing and health claims regulations, and fiscal promotion (demotion) of (un)healthy foods. To the industry, we provide training and guidance on the use of the criteria in the positioning, promotion, and reformulation of processed foods and as a foundation of the corporate nutrition and sustainability policy.
Semnen R. Lambert, MD
Semnen is the representative and consultant for Africa. She is a medical doctor with a master's specialization in International Public Health. Based in Lagos, Nigeria, her job will be to act as a liaison between Choices based initiatives in Africa and the global secretariat. This includes collaborating with existing national programs to foster healthier food choices to relieve the double burden of malnutrition. Also, she supports new initiatives in Africa to promote healthier food.
Although she is coming from conventional medicine which focuses on disease treatment, she has a passion for preventive medicine. She believes that with the current epidemiological transition, changes in causes of mortality, there should be more emphasis on preventive medicine to address these changes in diet consumption habits, lifestyles, etc.
Nigerian Heart Foundation
Choices started its work in Africa a few years ago, with collaboration with Nigeria to aid consumers to make healthier choices through their food labeling criteria with the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF). The NHF is a non- profit and non- governmental organization that promotes heart health, scientific research in cardiovascular health, healthy lifestyles, and advocacy on heart issues. We have Dr. Kingsley K. Akinroye a Cardiovascular health physician and Executive Director of the NHF on our international board. In 2018, we co-organized with the NHF a meeting with relevant stakeholders working in the fields of both malnutrition and NCD prevention in Nigeria. Some organizations that participated include the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Customer Protection Council (CPC), and Friesland Campina WAMCO Nigeria Limited. Since then, we have worked on several initiatives together.
For more information on the NHF: Website
In April 2020, Choices had a stakeholder discussion with the NHGSFP and private sectors on improving child nutrition in the program. The meeting concluded that there is a challenge to meet the micronutrient requirements for school children merely through homegrown meals. School meals may need to be complemented by fortified food products as biofortification or fortification of local products are often impossible and expensive
Also, there is a need to include upper limits for saturated fats, trans fats, salts, and sugars to provide clear guidelines. Currently, the NHGSFP does not have a lot of processed foods, only high energy biscuits, but is looking at the possibility to encourage the inclusion of fortified foods that are locally grown. Consequently, the program will consider factors that will ensure that processed foods are nutritious
Choices have created a platform for the younger generation of nutritionists in Africa to contribute to addressing nutrition challenges in the continent. We believe the younger generation in Africa may have to bear the consequences of the rising prevalence of the double burden of malnutrition, it is imperative that they are part of finding the solutions and overall ensuring a better future for the continent. Our main objectives are: (1) To provide an interactive platform for young scientist in Africa to exchange knowledge through webinars and discussions (2) To build skills and acquire knowledge through training (3) To support young scientist in gaining experience in nutrition by providing volunteering opportunities, competitions, advocacy, etc.
We presently have almost 200 members from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, and Mozambique. Choices will continue to grow this community and engage with these young scientists in Africa to exchange ideas on how to tackle the double burden of malnutrition in Africa.
To be a member of the Choices African Nutrition Community: Join our Facebook Group
Choices led a series of four studies on the implementation of the international recommendations of the double burden of malnutrition in Nigeria, Zambia, Indonesia, and Kenya. The aim of the study was to provide insight into the national food and nutrition policies to prevent the double burden of malnutrition. The study concludes that there is a lack of expertise and political priority to address nutrition issues. Also, proposed solutions should be locally contextualized so as to be effective and sustainable.
For a summary of the results of this study:
The report can be downloaded here: Link
Choices sponsored a symposium in the plenary session at the Federation of African Nutrition Societies (FANUS) conference in Kigali, 26-29 August, 2019. It positioned the Double Burden of Malnutrition (DBM) as increasingly becoming prevalent in the continent and calls for actions to be taken to address this problem. The symposium was attended by more than 400 nutrition experts in Africa. Speakers at Choices symposium were the Prof. Ngozi Nnam, the President of FANUS, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, Executive Director of the NHF, Raphael Siwiti from WFP and Rutger Schilpzand, the MD of Choices International
For more information:
The first focal country of the Choices study on the Double Burden of Malnutrition was Nigeria. Choices African representative, Semnen Lambert, MD, has executed this study on the implementation of the international recommendations of the double burden of malnutrition in Nigeria. She has presented the results at the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN) conference at 12 September 2019, Abuja, Nigeria. The NSN Annual Conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders in nutrition in Nigeria.
This study yielded informative and elucidating insight into recommendations by international organizations on addressing the DBM on a national level. Furthermore, the information from stakeholder investigation in Nigeria showed that additional efforts are required for a successful implementation of these policies.
For summary of the results of this study:
For conference declaration: Download here