The Global Leadership Initiative on Malnutrition (GLIM) recently appointed a working group to develop diagnostic guidelines for clinical malnutrition that can ultimately be implemented universally.
Prof Renée Blaauw, head of Therapeutic Nutrition at the Division Human Nutrition at Stellenbosch University’s (SU) Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS), has been invited to represent the South African Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (SASPEN), and thereby also Africa, on this body.
GLIM was formed by the four largest international clinical nutrition societies (ESPEN for Europe, ASPEN for USA, FELANPE for Latin-America and PENSA for Asia), and has global representatives from national nutrition societies, including SASPEN.
“Currently each society makes use of their own guidelines to diagnose malnutrition in hospitals and clinics. This makes it extremely difficult to compare internationally sourced data. The aim is to get the group to agree on guidelines that can be used universally,” says Blaauw. These guidelines will then be presented to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for adoption.
This is a challenging task due to the many variables, such as body composition, race and available resources that differ across population groups. Though there are certain points of agreement pertaining to diagnostic guidelines, a press release on GLIM’s most recent meeting held in Copenhagen in September last year, highlighted the call from nutrition experts across the globe to appoint a working group to aid in reaching consensus. Blaauw views her role as having to give guidance in the pursuit of this goal, rather than one of leadership.
“The guidelines should be practical and logistically appropriate for Africa and South Africa, especially if it will be adopted by the WHO,” she says. “I believe the continent has valuable input to contribute to help give perspective on clinical nutrition practices in a developing environment.”
Blaauw describes her appointment as a representative for SASPEN both an honour and a great responsibility. “It’s important that SASPEN and Africa are recognised as a respected member of this committee,” she says. “I look forward to taking on this challenge.”