Dr David Nabarro, Professor of Global Health at the Imperial College London, has been a leader in international public health for well over 40 years. Much of this time, the United Nations has entrusted him to lead collective action on some of the most pressing and complex challenges of our time—the avian and pandemic influenza, food security, malnutrition, Ebola and for promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A member of Scaling-up Nutrition (SUN), he is also the winner of one of the world’s most coveted awards: The World Food Prize in 2018. In a candid interview, India’s very own nutrition champion, Basanta Kumar Kar, recipient of the just-announced Global Nutrition Award, 2019, caught up with Dr Nabarro, who happened to win the first award in 2012, at Kathmandu, Nepal. This is the concluding part of the interview. Please watch the videos below for a full flavour of the interview.
Basanta Kumar Kar: India is a goldmine of impactful models to combat malnutrition. What is your take on this?
David Nabarro: I have been to many states in India, including yours (Odisha). And they are really full of fabulous examples. At the anganwadi level, at the panchayat level, at the district level. There is an increasing recognition that nutrition matters. But there is not a single approach that has been used to reduce malnutrition in India. We need to bring together different sectors, particularly health, agriculture and social development, to work in an integrated way and link that with the work on woman and child development. And that can become a really strong nurturing package. This will be transformative. There will be millions of children who will have a better start to life. That will not be just good for them as individuals but for the entire nation on the whole. I am very excited about it..
BKK: Very heartening to hear this. You know so well about anganwadis and panchayats and about the micro and macro linkages, convergences that have to happen to impact the bottomline.
DN: I must say that I see numerous examples of great work. As I can see, the examples need to be brought into the mainstream and broadened into the national agenda, so that they will be able to reach all the anganwadi centres, different panchayats and districts. The potential is huge.
BKK: The Outlook Poshan platform was launched this year, perhaps the first of its kind in the world launched by a very credible media group, the Outlook Group. The aim is to make nutrition a household name. We had organised the Outlook Poshan Nutrition Leadership Award, another pioneering effort, where the Honourable Vice President of India had called for a “nutrition revolution.” You are familiar with the website and you have also seen several posts. So what is the message you wish to convey through the Outlook Poshan platform?
DN: First of all, there are so many opportunities as a result of amazing connectivity in this country. So many people being able to access internet. It means, we have the opportunity to create open-access platform to enable the individuals everywhere to connect with each other and also to connect with those in positions of responsibility. But, more and more, I am feeling that to enable better nutrition, the most important access is to connect households and parents with each other, so that they can work together. There has to be a way to advice those who are wondering what to do and also lay the basis for recognising those who perform really well. Keep it going. These things really require maintenance.
My last point is that, you can use this as an example for other countries, and share your experiences with them, so that they can benefit from you. This will liberate women all across India. They will get the necessary guidance they want and need.
BKK: Thank you so much. It was great to hear from you. We look forward to collaborate with you, to make India malnutrition-free. We wish to see you soon in the coming years.
DN: Before closing, I need to say to all those who are watching that Basantaji got a prestigious award in Kathmandu. The award was presented by ‘Sight and Life’. I witnessed your acceptance speech, which was very clear and very precise. People say that you are a person who works relentlessly for empowering people in several countries to get nutrition. And, I suspect, that you do not take too much credit for it.