MEALS4NCDs and partners launch the 2nd Africa FERN (#FERN2021)

The Measurement, Evaluation, Accountability and Leadership Support for NCDs prevention (MEALS4NCDs) Project with support from partners: International Network for Food and Obesity/Non-communicable Diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS), UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems, Réseau de Recherche sur les Politiques et les Systèmes Alimentaires en Afrique de l’Ouest (REPSAO), Drivers of Food Choice (DFC) program, Food prices for Nutrition,  Chronic Diseases Initiative for Africa (CDIA) the Agriculture Nutrition & Health (ANH) Academy, the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) launched the second Africa Food Environment Research Network (FERN) Meeting dubbed “FERN2021” on Wednesday, November 03 2021. Implemented by researchers from the University of Ghana, and collaborators from the Ghana Health Service, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Kenya (APHRC), France, Canada, Belgium, and The Netherlands, The MEALS4NCDS Project  is focused on measuring and supporting public sector actions that create healthy food marketing and food provisioning environments for children and adolescents in Ghana. The project’s ultimate aim is to prevent obesity and nutrition-related NCDs. The FERN initiative is a capacity-building component of the MEALS4NCDs Project.

Originally launched on Tuesday, November 03 2020, the Africa Food Environment Research Network held its first meeting (FERN2020) under the theme: “Connecting Food Environment Researchers across Africa” with about 200 participants from 56 countries. The FERN initiative aims to promote the idea of regional capacity-building, and knowledge-sharing among researchers and stakeholders in the African sub-region and beyond, whose work relates to improving Africa food environments. The initiative also sets out to ignite research collaborations, the implementation of innovative food environment research, and practices that facilitate the creation of healthier food environments in Africa.

FERN2021 is a three-day (November 3rd, 10th, and 17th, 2021) virtual meeting under the theme: “Leveraging Food Environment Research Network (FERN) to Transform Africa’s Food Systems”.  At the launch of the meeting, Professor Amos Laar – Coordinator of the MEALS4NCDs Project stated that Food Systems actors and stakeholders must leverage FERN, and therefore research, practice, and policy-making networks to contribute to transforming Africa’s food environments and food systems as a whole.

Incorporated into this year’s FERN meeting is the INFORMAS e-symposium for Africa. The e-symposium is anticipated to feature keynote speakers of international repute (including Professor Boyd Swinburn, Dr. David Nabarro, Professor Amos Laar, Dr. Stella Nordhagen, Dr. Kelly Garton, Professor Gary Sacks, Professor Richmond Aryeetey, and Professor Adama Diouf), as well as abstract-driven sessions.

Contributing to the launch of the meeting were distinguished speakers from Africa and the Global North, and over 100 participants including researchers, stakeholders from industry, food, nutrition and health policy experts, academia, governments, civil society, non-governmental organizations, and health-promoting private sector from Africa and other regions of the world.

The meeting was made possible with funding support from The Canada International Development Research Centre (IDRC)

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