Dr. Walid bin Khalifa Al-Maneh, Bahraini Ministry of Health undersecretary, has launched the “Ajyal Salima” nutrition education program during a ceremony celebrating the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Health and Nestlé Middle East. The event was also attended by Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health Dr. Mariam Al-Hajjry and other officials from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.
Al-Maneh highlighted that the Ministry of Health is undertaking the responsibility of devising policies and programs aimed at tackling unhealthy habits among children and youth, including poor nutrition and sedentary lifestyles. He said that international surveys show obesity rates to have reached 40 percent and sedentary lifestyle rates 23 percent among 13-15-year-old students in Bahrain.
Al-Maneh said Ajyal Salima was first launched in the region in Lebanon in 2010, in partnership with the American University of Beirut, and has since spread to Dubai in 2012, Saudi Arabia in 2014, Jordan in 2015, and Palestine in 2016, implemented in collaboration with ministries of Health and Education and local health and education-focused nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in those countries.
The undersecretary added that Ajyal Salima is in line with the goals of the World Health Organization to address childhood obesity and supports the eradication of malnutrition through sustainable development. The program fits with the Gulf region’s strategy for the prevention of non-communicable diseases, and includes train the trainers workshops developed and delivered by American University of Beirut experts.
Nehmatallah Younes, general business manager, Nestlé Bahrain, said: “From leading research in children nutrition, to product innovation and introducing healthier foods, to education and innovative nutrition and lifestyle programs and services, our global ambition is to help 50 million children lead healthier lives by 2030.”
“Tackling the growing triple burden of malnutrition: Undernutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies can only happen through more partnerships between academia, the private and public sectors on programs such as the science-based Ajyal Salima,” said Dr. Carla Habib Mourad, lecturer of nutritional sciences at the American University of Beirut, and regional scientific coordinator for Ajyal Salima.