On 29 May 2006, the 59th World Health Assembly, the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), adopted a resolution on the ‘Prevention of avoidable blindness and visual impairment’. Given that still more than 161 million people world- wide are visually impaired, of whom 37 million are blind, and that about 75% of blindness is avoidable, the resolution is timely and is expected to strengthen the VISION 2020 plans. VISION 2020: The Right to Sight is a global initiative of the WHO and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). It comprises governments and NGOs committed to the prevention and treatment of blindness. Among other things, the resolution urges member states to include Vision 2020 in national development plans, and encourages partnerships between the public and private sectors, NGOs and communities. Since its inception SIGHT AND LIFE has supported IAPB, and now it has also become a formal partner of Vision 2020. In this way SIGHT AND LIFE continues to take responsibility for the prevention of childhood blindness, as good vitamin A nutrition is pivotal for the eradication of this scourge. As indicated in the previous edition of the Newsletter, SIGHT AND LIFE’s 20th anniversary year will be a year of action. But after 20 years of work committed to the fight against vitamin A and other micronutrient deficiencies, this should also be a time for reflection. We think that we are on the right track with our mission and the services we provide, but I believe we could even do better. Therefore we are taking this occasion as an opportunity to examine our own activities. With the sup- port of an international consultancy group we are determining how we can fully leverage our capabilities. The consultants are undertaking this project on a pro bono basis. Your feedback from the questionnaire (see Newsletter 1/2006) and interviews with some of you are a valued contribution towards this goal. Nutritional anemia remains an issue affecting more than two bil- lion people worldwide. We have decided to bring together leading experts to discuss approaches to controlling nutritional anemia. The program of a correspond- ing workshop on 27 September 2006 in Barcelona will be found on page 54 of this Newsletter. There is only limited capacity for the workshop and we are already almost fully booked. Should we, as we hope, succeed in moving the meeting to a larger room we will make an announcement to this effect on our website. On 16 June 2006, at the invitation of SIGHT AND LIFE, experts of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) came to Switzerland to discuss school feed- ing activities with employees of DSM Nutritional Products. There was an enormous interest in this topic. Micronutrient enhanced school feeding in Madagascar is also the topic of a contribution to this Newsletter by Arnaud Laillou and coworkers (page 4). On page 25 you can read about the role of high-energy nutrient dense biscuits in the WFP’s tsunami response in South East Asia and school feeding. In April 2006 a team from SIGHT AND LIFE visited Micronesia to shoot a film documentary on what is called by the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition ‘the double burden of malnutrition’. Under- and overnutrition can no longer be regarded in isolation – and early intervention is key in implementing success- ful preventative strategies. The purpose of the film is to create awareness and suggest solutions for this worldwide nutrition problem. Please read the article on page 39 by Lois Englberger and Adelino Lorens. Finally, I would like to call your attention to Barbara Underwood’s article on four decades of intense vitamin A and carotenoid research (page 10). The article is based on the James Olson Memorial Lecture at this year’s Carotene Research Interaction Group (CARIG) annual conference (page 18). It is a very stimulating reflection on public health interventions to control vitamin A deficiency. I am convinced that this year’s reflections will provide us with clear directions for the future, and, more importantly, for the benefit of billions of people suffering from ‘hidden hunger’
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