Nutrition: The Key to Combating Prevailing Health Threats

The nation has been under the health threats posed by the double burden of malnutrition for more than three decades. Energy and nutrient deficiencies persist among specific communities while non-communicable diseases (NCDs) affect wide segments of the population. Although these nutritional problems have received considerable attention, systematic actions to combat them are clearly not adequate. We are still struggling in dealing with the high rates of morbidity and mortality resulting from NCDs.

The country has been hit by yet another health threat for the past year, the COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus. This pandemic, which continues to rage across the globe, has highlighted the importance of good nutrition and healthy lifestyle as the key to strengthening immunity so as to combat the pandemic. It has also been established that individuals with underlying NCDs are at an increased risk of more severe COVID-19 complications and mortality, should they become infected. Due to this inter-connected nature of NCDs and COVID-19, it is even more important now for the vulnerable groups and people with underlying medical problems (e.g. NCDs and their risk factors) to pay attention to their health and nutrition. The pandemic should act as a catalyst for us to focus our effort and investment in improving healthy diets and physical activity.

Wholesociety approach is now more crucial than ever in tackling NCDs and this new health threat COVID-19. It is essential for various stakeholders including government agencies, academic institutions, professional bodies and private sectors, as well as public to collaborate together to systematically implement the identified strategies and action plans. It is even more crucial for all stakeholders to form strategic alliances, and pool together all the required resources to combat nutrition related problems in the country.

The theme of the 36th NSM Annual Scientific Conference underscores the importance of nutrition as the key to NCDs prevention, strengthening immunity and combating these health threats. This conference aims to serve as a platform for all stakeholders to productively exchange and discuss research and intervention activities towards combating these health threats, to building healthier future generations.