Why Do We Undertake This Project?

In the setting of thriving economic conditions, increases in both undernutrition and obesity (the “double burden of malnutrition”) are causing public health concern in SEA. Early life undernutrition has a high prevalence, along with childhood obesity and chronic diseases. Thailand and Malaysia are increasingly urbanized (50.4% and 74.7% now live in urban areas, respectively) and a shift from infectious diseases to a “western” chronic disease pattern has been observed (UN, D.o.E.a.S.A., Population Division 2014, Urban Population 2015; Deloitte, Health Care Outlook SEA, 2015). Research has shown that early life nutrition, starting in the womb, contributes to this shift, through a “programming” effect on the later risk of non-communicable diseases, with major economic and societal consequences.

There is an urgent need to reverse the alarming trends. One effective measure is providing health care professionals with up-to-date/evidence-based knowledge on early nutrition/lifestyle recommendations, to enable effective counselling in their contacts with (pre-) pregnant women, infants and young children. Nutrition related health problems including low birth weight, protein energy malnutrition, iron deficiency anaemia and micro-nutrient (e.g. iodine, vitamin A) deficiencies can be tackled by consultation with educated health professionals.

Such education can be achieved through effective CME and CPD programmes, using e-learning formats to increase reach. The WHO has set SEA region CME/CPD guidelines, emphasizing maintaining professional competence (WHO, Regional Office for SEA, 2010). Lack of motivation, absence of needs–based accredited CME/CPD programmes, incentives and legal bindings has led to unsuccessful mandatory programmes in Thailand and Malaysia. No programme is yet available for SEA doctors working in the field of early nutrition and lifestyle: the ENeASEA project will provide this.

Overall mission of the project

  • ENeASEA will address the burning need for development and implementation of a scientific evidence-based, unbiased and freely accessible e-learning programme suitable for CME / CPD for practicing AHPs in SEA, with of focus on providing practicably applicable advice area of early nutrition and lifestyle during the critical first 1000 days of development during pregnancy and the first two years of childhood.
  • ENeASEA intends to adapt existing e-learning modules of two larger initiatives (ENeAGlobal and the Southampton malnutrition e-learning programme), and to expand and adapt its curriculum to the special needs of AHPs (doctors in practice e.g. obstetricians/gynecologists, pediatricians, general practitioners) in Thailand and Malaysia, specifically within the field of early nutrition and lifestyle.
  • ENeASEA thus contributes to the improving practical counselling competencies and clinical practice aimed at (pre-) pregnant women, and the parents of infants and young children. This fulfills the national and regional ambitions in reducing early nutrition and lifestyle related health problems and subsequently arising risks of suboptimal development, physical and cognitive abilities, and of diseases including particularly NCDs.