Congress of the World Public Health Nutrition Association with
Abrasco (the Brazilian Association of Collective Health)
to be held in Rio de Janeiro, 27-30 April 2012
Above, from left to right, here are more organisers of our Rio 2012 congress:
Access the Rio2012 April story here
Catherine Geissler, Fabio Gomes, Janine Coutinho, and Sabrina Ionata.
Norway. Sabrina Ionata writes: Here is the latest news about our Rio2012 congress, being held next April. On this month's home page is information on the key organisers of the congress, their work, their background and expectations. And also their willingness to involve more people in the whole process.
The presidents of the two partner organisations, Barrie Margetts and Luiz Facchini, are the chairs of the congress Executive Committee. They assume overall responsibility for the congress, and ensure coordination between the Association and ABRASCO.
The congress General Secretary represents both organisations. She is Inês Rugani, the Brazilian nutritionist and associate professor of public health nutrition at the venue of Rio2012, the state university of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ). She and her team are responsible for convening and organising the work of the executive committee. Says Inês: 'This is an exciting challenge. So is translating the principles and purposes of the congress into practice in its programme. This involves the organisation, in all its practical details, an interactive congress that contributes to bridging knowledge, policy and action, and that creates spaces for dialogue and convergence between researchers, policy makers, field workers and activists who work in nutrition and in public health'.
One of Inês's tasks is to ensure that the two main aspects of the congress work in a harmonised way, as two sides of the same coin. One side is the definition of the programme, themes and other content related issues. The other side is operational, taking care of infrastructure, fundraising, communication and complementary activities. These tasks are carried out by the programme committee and the operational committee, respectively.
The programme committee has four facilitators: Harriet Kuhnlein, Catherine Geissler, Fabio Gomes and Janine Coutinho.
Janine Coutinho is a Brazilian nutritionist, researcher at the Food and Nutrition Security Policies dapartment at the University of Brasilia, and also currently the nutrition focal point at the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO). Janine has training and professional experience on public health nutrition and nutrition policies, and is very active in promotion of healthy dietary practices and regulation of food advertising and labelling. For Rio2012, Janine is especially involved with the development of participatory methodologies and dynamics for the congress. Many innovative ideas are coming!
Association Council member Harriet Kuhnlein lives in Anacortes, USA, and maintains ties with academic colleagues at her academic base at McGill University in Montreal, where she is Professor Emerita. She was educated as a dietitian and a nutritionist, has been a public health nutritionist for more than 30 years, and is a member of several dietetics and nutrition societies. Harriet is particularly optimistic about this congress because of its innovative approach. She believes that one of the most important aspects is that the congress will address 'the regular topics of public health nutrition, such as food security, food policy and strategies for action, and also the surrounding issues of economics, environmental integrity and social justice'.
That is certainly one of the strong points for this congress, a new approach beyond conventional discussions on public health nutrition. Another special point is the interactivity and innovative methodologies that are being prepared, with dynamics to promote exchange among participants. Regarding both aspects, themes and methodologies, the congress facilitators have been consulting with many professionals and institutions to gather input in the early planning stages of the congress. For Catherine Geissler, this is very important. 'It has been quite a democratic process', she says.
Catherine Geissler is originally from Scotland, and after obtaining a PhD in nutrition at Berkeley, California, became based at Queen Elizabeth College, London, which later merged with King's College. She has been settled there ever since and is now Professor Emerita, after participating in research and consultancies in many countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. She sees many positive aspects in the congress, among them the abundance of ideas for discussion and the good collaboration and mutual understanding of the team members. But she keeps her feet on the ground. 'There is much to be done between now and the congress. An important challenge will be to obtain adequate funding in the current economic climate to support the congress, as well as to provide translations for most of the sessions. The two official languages will be English and Portuguese, and all sessions will include translations into the other language. Few Anglophones will understand Portuguese, although I imagine that more Brazilians will understand English' she says.
She is confident, though, that the organising teams will pull this together and bring it to fruition. Integration is definitely a key aspect. As Harriet says: 'It is very exciting to see the serious thought and careful attention to pressing issues of public health nutrition by colleagues from all over the world, who will come together in Rio in 2012'.
Fabio Gomes, who is also the Association Membership Secretary, is excited about the overall work process in the congress, and the results we expect to achieve. He is particularly excited about the potential for gathering Association members in Rio, in the workshops, symposiums and also in the complementary activities, including cultural ones. 'It will be a very valuable experience for Association members in terms of networking, getting to know each other and establishing potentially productive professional links', he says. And indeed, we expect to promote such interaction, and also motivate others to join the Association mission on public health nutrition.
To make this all happen, there are many operational challenges that are being carefully worked with. On the Operational Committee, there are two facilitators: Luciana Castro and myself.
Luciana Castro is currently Director of the Nutrition Department at our host organization, UERJ. She has a PhD in Collective Health, currently dedicates her teaching time to public health nutrition and research regarding children's dietary practices, school meals and capacity building in healthy eating. Her past experience includes work as a nutritionist in the municipal government of Ouro Preto, Brazil. and at the Federal University of Ouro Preto, before moving to UERJ in 1996.
Since Rio was chosen to hold the next World Nutrition congress, Luciana and her UERJ staff have been dedicating much of their working hours to the congress. 'Organising the congress of this nature, with the proposal that it brings, requires that the team actively search for partnerships, listening to stakeholders and considering how to engage them in the exchange and construction process. One of the positive things so far is being able to count on the help and support of many colleagues, including undergraduate and post-graduate students, lecturers of UERJ and other institutions as well. Our creative processes have been extremely rich, and definitely an opportunity for capacity building of young professionals, researchers and activists'.
Indeed, Luciana. The facilitators count on support in their committee tasks from many professionals and students. And more supporters are needed.
How do you get involved?
We are constantly looking for people who would like to give support to both committees. You can be either Brazilian or of any other nationality, a young or more senior professional.
If you would like to get involved, send an e-mail to the Association Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you say a bit about yourself and how much time you are able to devote to the congress every week. And feel free to ask any questions you have.
As Luciana says, 'We hope that we can achieve the principles and purposes of this congress, and that it begins a new different way of having meetings in Public Health Nutrition'. We hope that you will join us in that quest!
We will be publishing here more information about Rio 2012 next month and every month this year.
Association General Secretary