Nestlé is focusing its efforts to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Central and West Africa by ramping up its nutrition education programmes and initiatives.
NCDs, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, are the leading cause of death in virtually all countries worldwide according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Nestlé, together with national and local governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and leading academia, is playing an active role to address these health issues in the region.
One particular NCD, diabetes, is a growing concern globally. The WHO has highlighted that nearly 350 million people suffer from diabetes worldwide
In Central and West African countries, such as Ghana, a large percentage of the population suffers from type 2 diabetes – when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly – which is often associated with obesity and tends to be diagnosed in older people.
Nestlé’s efforts to tackle this issue are highlighted by the International Diabetes Federation’s World Diabetes Day on November 14, which aims to raise awareness this year on healthy eating to fight the disease.
Nestlé Healthy Kids
Nestlé is committed to addressing the challenge of NCDs by promoting healthy diets and lifestyles, including physical activity.
Through its worldwide nutrition education initiative, the Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Programme, the company is promoting healthy lifestyles among school age children. Content is developed with local experts and tailored to local health and nutritional needs.
As part of the programme, Nestlé is working with partners including the Ministries of Education and Health, NGOs, academic bodies, nutrition health institutes and sports federations.
It aims to focus on enhancing healthy lifestyles, good hygiene and increased physical activity for children, both in and out of the classroom, to reach the wider community.
The programme is currently running in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.
Since its launch, Nestlé has reached over 75,000 children and 150 teachers through the programme. By working together with its partners, it aims to reach 100,000 children by 2018.
Role of education
Nestlé believes education plays an important part in promoting good nutrition and healthy lifestyles. The company aims to share its expertise and knowledge on nutrition to help those that are most involved in implementing good practices, such as healthcare professionals (HCPs), parents and caregivers.
One way the company is doing this, is through the Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa (NNIA). It is part of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute (NNI), a non-profit organisation that offers a variety of on- and offline unbranded educational services to HCPs.
This nutrition resource for HCPs in Africa is also a multi-disciplinary educational organisation dedicated to the science of nutrition on the continent.
Last year alone, about 6,500 HCPs from Central and West Africa were trained through NNIA activities. Nearly 9,000 of them are registered to its website.
The NNIA also works with nutrition societies and healthcare professional organisations in the industry, such as the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN), which offers postgraduate training to paediatricians in Africa on gastroenterology and nutrition.
As part of NNIA’s activities, the annual CWAR Advanced Nutrition Workshop (CANUP) brings together HCPs and shares resources, research and training on maternal and child nutrition based on the latest scientific data.
This year, it piloted the NNIA International Course in Applied Nutrition (ICAN) aimed at public health, neonatal and paediatric nurses and midwives.
Nestlé is also providing Africans with basic nutritional information through various media outlets.
For example, the ‘Nestlé Nutrition Line’ is aired during weekdays to help people build sound nutritional knowledge and encourage them to make informed choices on their diet and health.
The five-minute radio programme, live every morning of the week, focuses on topics developed by a qualified nutritionist, which takes into account local culinary habits.
Launched in 2013, the radio programme is broadcast in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Cameroon, in languages relevant to each country such as English, Twi, Krio, Liberian English, Wollof and French to reach more people in the region.
Recently, the ‘Healthy Living Africa’ campaign was released on the company’s corporate website, and on its social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ to urge people to eat less salt, reaching more than 11 million people.
During the campaign a different theme each week focused on practical tips on how to reduce salt by making simple and healthy lifestyle.
Maggi Cooking Caravans
Nestlé aims to be part of the solution against NCDs by encouraging African consumers to adapt their taste preferences and adopt a healthier diet in the long term.
The company looks to do this by helping to increase the consumption of whole grains and vegetables, including via healthier home cooking.
In Central and West Africa, Maggi ‘Cooking Caravans’ have travelled across the region to provide nutrition expertise, culinary hygiene and healthy eating cooking tips to millions of consumers.
They offer interactive cooking demonstrations, women’s forums, group discussions and presentations on micronutrient fortification.