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Cambodian FBDG now on FAO Website

More than 100 countries in the world have developed their own Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG) according to the local food culture and foodstuff commonly available at market. Those FBDGs are listed on the website of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Cambodia was unequipped with FBDG for a long time. Requested by the Ministry of Health, FIDR led the working group for establishing Cambodian FBDG for school-aged children, which was eventually finalized last year and endorsed by MoH. Lately, this Cambodia FBDG was posted in the FAOfs website; the image of the tri-color national flag featuring Angkor Wat was added in the list of FBDG holder countries. It means that the development of Cambodian FBDG was in compliance with the international standard that requires scientific evidences obtained by rigorous survey and analysis.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Website

Because it was the first experience for Cambodia to produce FBDG, it is far from a perfect one. Yet, it is a sure one step forward to the better nutrition of the Cambodian children. FIDR is going to challenge toward the objective by actively holding hands with MoH, Ministry of Education, and various organizations.


Introducig Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for Schools

Food pyramid poster in the classroom

On April 24, 2018, the School Health Department, in collaboration with the World Food Program, held the Cooking Competition at Khom Thmey Primary School, Koulen District, Preah Vihear province. This program is designed to encourage volunteer chefs to continue their cooking activities for the students in schools where the school meal program supported by World Food Program is being implemented. This event was the first time for Preah Vihear province to celebrate this. There are attendees from provincial and district Department of Education, School Health Department, World Food Program, chefs and school principals from 16 primary schools.

For the Judgment Committee, three were 2 officials from the Technical Office of the School Health Department and one Deputy District Governor of Kulen. The judgment was made based on four important points: sanitation and hygiene, organizing, food appearance, and tastes. The first place was given to the chef from Koh Ker Primary School, who cooked Lok Lak (fried beef with fresh salad, onion and tomato), followed by Kor kor soup (Khmer Traditional Soup with vegetables and fish) from the Khom Thmey primary school, and Fried vegetables with pork from Romchek Primary School. All chefs enjoyed regardless of winning the prize.

The chefs met on the platform and the foods were shown for tasting

During the time that the chefs were cooking, FIDR invited the school principals from 16 schools and introduced Food-based Dietary Guidelines for school-aged children using IEC materials. The school principals were encouraged to disseminate FBDG to their teachers and students and promote healthy eating habits and life style among children. Dr. Kimsotheavy, the director of the School Health Department remarked: gIt is important and very meaningful that the government (School Health Department of Ministry of Education), UN organization (WFP) and NGO ( FIDR) continue to work together and organize joint events to promote Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for Cambodian children".

FIDR staff was presenting a brief explanation on the poster to school principals

The school principals came back from the program and placed the poster on the wall in the classrooms.
Some of the students were talking about the food in the pyramid. They said itfs very interesting and they understand what the messages say.


FIDR introduced Cambodian FDBG at SUNCSA workshop

FIDR staff introducing the Cambodian Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for school-aged children at the workshop

Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), a movement which was launched by the United Nations initiative to strengthen political commitment and accountability for nutrition improvement, has been recently expanding in the world. Now such movements have been started in 60 countries while some NGOs dealing with nutrition improvement cooperated and started SUN Civil Society Alliance (SUNCSA) in Cambodia in 2017. FIDR also works on nutrition improvement and takes part in SUNCSA as a member of it.

From 5th to 6th of April, in the workshop to talk about future efforts and midterm report of the 4-year strategy regarding food security and nutrition, FIDR announced about Food Based Dietary Guidelines and efforts on promotion of nutrition education.

Participants showed their interests on IEC materials and the development process of Cambodian FBDG

Our team is supposed to make a report about a case in the 7th Asian Congress of Dietetics in Hong Kong in July, and our efforts in Cambodia are going to be internationally introduced at the conference.


We held a seminar on completion of eating habits guidelines

Picture with all participants on the FBDG launching seminar

For the first time in Cambodia, the first Food-Based Dietary Guideline (Cambodia version - Food Balance Guide) for children in school age was finally completed by the effort of FIDR and related ministries, international organizations and NGOs in Cambodia in developing the guideline. This dietary guideline was officially certified by the Ministry of Health of Cambodia and became a new guideline for nutritional intake of children. During the development of the guideline, there were many issues to be cleared, therefore, it was a pleasure for FIDR staffs to be able to successfully conduct this FBDG launching seminar.

Panel discussion with related ministries' representatives

On the launching seminar (November 20th, 2017), many participants from Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education of Cambodia, and other stakeholders from rural provinces came to listen the introduction of dietary guideline. In addition, we also had a pleasure of welcoming Professor Nobuo Yoshiike and Associate Professor Kaoru Kusama from Aomori University of Health and Welfare, who have been providing technical support for the project team so far, and gave a talk about practical cases of Japanese version dietary guidelines in the launching seminar.
For the Cambodian participants (especially who came from rural provinces), this was a rare opportunity for them to listen lectures from Japanese professors, so they listened the lectures enthusiastically.

Professor Yoshiike (on the left) gave a talk about Japanese case

Moreover, we also welcomed the representatives of Kyoto Morning Rotary Club who have had financial support in preparing teaching materials for dietary guidelines. By seeing FIDR projectf sites in actual, they can understand more about the activities that we have been implementing and we hope that the distance between donors, local staffs and Cambodia people has been shortened through this time. This seminar was also a good opportunity for us, as project members, to realize that we are supported by many people and we highly appreciate these supports.

In addition, the seminar was broadcasted as national news on Cambodian television. We expected that more Cambodian people will know and get interested in this topic.

The dietary guideline which was formulated this time (FBDG) is not our final goal. Promotion and dissemination of this guideline are important process for us to do as the next step of the project.

In the future, "Health" will be an official subject in Cambodian primary education and this dietary guideline would be published in the textbooks like the dietary guideline which has been used in Japanese textbooks about health and home economics. However, because there is no teacher about nutrition or nutritionist teaching in Cambodia in current, nutrition education and dietary education have not been conducted now.

Therefore, for the time being, in order to promote nutrition education at schools in Cambodia, it is necessary to conduct training and capacity building for the teachers as well. FIDR will continuously support these training activities in the future.

Food pyramid that shaped of Angkor Wat shows the food based dietary guidelines(26/6/2017)


For the health of children in Cambodia
~ One more step to completion of "Food-Based Dietary Guidelines "~

Working group consisting of members from Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, WHO and National Health Research Institute discussed about design of the food pyramid and wording of the slogan.

The Food-Based Dietary Guidelines (FBDG) consists of several simple slogans which are easy to understand by everyone and a food pyramid showing what and how many food should be eaten to have a healthy eating habit. According to the "World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition" adopted at the International Nutrition Conference held in 1992 co-hosted by the United Nations agency WHO (World Health Organization) and FAO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization), Dietary Guidelines should be established by each country to promote appropriate eating habits and lifestyle habits for their own citizens. On the FAO official website where the dietary guidelines of each country are introduced, among 29 member countries of Asia Pacific region, only 17 countries mainly developed countries are represented their dietary guidelines.

However, there is no Cambodian name in that. In order to establish the guideline, it is necessary to have clear information about dietary habits and nutritional condition based on scientific evidence, then repeat the verification of the contents many times. But in Cambodia where there is no professional nutritionist, no training institution about nutrition, the expertise, labor, time, and funds are strongly necessary. Therefore, the establishment of dietary guidelines has been postponed for a long time.

FIDR has conducted the project on introducing hospital diet and nutrition management systems and human resource development at Cambodia National Pediatric Hospital since 2008, so FIDR have established a good relationship with the Ministry of Health of Cambodia. With their trust, FIDR received a request from Ministry of Health to support for the formulation of food dietary guidelines in 2013.

In order to create a food dietary guideline, a "recommended dietary allowance - RDA" (dietary reference intakes) is required by each country to indicate how much nutrient should be taken per day. Since this RDA does not even exist in Cambodia, a grecommended dietary allowanceh is required to be formulated firstly, by conducting the nationwide survey from 2014, beginning with researching the dietary intake situation and nutritional status of the target population in Cambodia.

This activity is the first challenge not only of Cambodia but also of FIDR, so we had to steadily proceed the formulation of guideline with precious advices from Japanese experts. (Reference: Past Articles). Additionally, in order to disseminate the Food Balance Guide, we also created some teaching materials such as posters, pamphlets which are easy to understand, then conducted a pilot study with elementary and junior high school students in urban and rural areas. Based on the research and study results as well as advices of working group members and other experts, we revised the contents many times to have a good product.

It is really a difficult journey until everyone who are involving in the formulation of the dietary guidelines could say "We all agreed! Let's go with this!".Now, after three-year from the beginning of the project, finally we have one more step further to submit the guidelines to the Ministry of Health.

"Letfs try for One more step!"
Our members of the project team are encouraging each other and working on our best for the health of children in Cambodia.