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Call for experts for updating FAO/WHO recommendations on nutrient requirements for children aged 0 –36 months

BACKGROUND

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition, 2016 – 2025 (Nutrition Decade) which was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as follow-up to the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) held in 2014, are bringing a renewed momentum for Nutrition with a clear expectation for a leadership role reaffirmed for FAO and WHO in providing evidence-informed guidance on nutrition and healthy diets.

Key to achieving the global nutrition goals and commitments is ensuring an adequate, healthy diet in infants and young children so that they can develop into healthy, productive adults. Proper infant and young child feeding is critical for improving child survival and promoting healthy growth and development, with the first two years of a child’s life being particularly important, as optimal nutrition during this period lowers morbidity and mortality, reduces the risk of noncommunicable disease, and fosters overall development. A key component of optimal nutrition during childhood and beyond is the adequate (but not excessive) intake of important micro- and macronutrients.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) established vitamin and mineral requirements for all age groups in 2004. Since this time, new data have emerged suggesting that requirements for some micronutrients may need to be updated, particularly for children. Therefore, and in part to inform the planned updating of WHO guidance on complementary feeding, the FAO Nutrition and Food Systems Division (ESN) and the WHO Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD) are establishing an expert group on nutrient requirements which will update nutrient requirements for children aged 0 – 36 months, following the WHO guideline development process and in line with Article 6 of the FAO Constitution.

Prior to initiating the guideline development process, WHO conducted an initial review of the recent scientific literature on nutrient requirements, and compilation of national dietary guidelines from all regions, containing detailed information about nutrient requirements in the age group of interest. Using the data obtained from this preparatory work, FAO and WHO were able to prioritise the nutrients to be updated. The first nutrients to be updated by the expert group will be calcium, vitamin D, and zinc.

FAO and WHO are therefore currently seeking to identify experts who would be able to serve in the expert group that will be updating the nutrient requirements for children aged 0 – 36 months.

INFORMATION FOR EXPERTS

Qualifications

Successful candidates should meet most or all of the following qualifications:

• Expertise in one or more subject matter areas as listed below
• Experience in developing nutrient requirements, in particular for children aged 0 – 36 months
• Good knowledge of the English language, both written and oral
• An advanced degree in a nutrition or other relevant discipline
• Ability to contribute to the preparation of scientific documents and to work in an international environment with scientists from various disciplines
• Recent, relevant scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals
• Leadership, or invited participation, in national or international scientific bodies, committees and other expert advisory bodies pertinent to the scope of this work

Subject matter expertise needed

• Micronutrient metabolism, bioavailability, deficiencies and related areas, particularly for calcium, vitamin D, and/or zinc
• Infant and young child feeding
• Methodologies relevant to the establishment of nutrient requirements (e.g. depletion-repletion studies, nutrient balance studies, biomarker assessment, etc.)
• Nutrition epidemiology (including assessment of RCTs, prospective observational studies, etc.)
• Evidence review methodologies (e.g. expertise in assessing evidence and developing guidelines, experts in GRADE methodology, experts in undertaking systematic reviews)
• Dietary assessment

Expert activities

Experts will contribute to the following activities as part of the guideline development process:

• providing input into the scope of the guidelines
• developing key questions (in PICO format) that will guide evidence reviews
• prioritizing important outcomes for decision-making and developing recommendations
• examining and interpreting the evidence, with explicit consideration of the overall balance of risks and benefits
• formulating recommendations taking into account benefits, harms, values and preferences, feasibility, equity, acceptability, resource requirements and other factors, as appropriate
• identifying research gaps
• reviewing the final guideline document

SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION

Interested parties should submit the following documents via the submission form at https://extranet.who.int/dataform/258175 :

1. Curriculum vitae, including
• detailed education background;
• relevant work experience; and
• list of peer-reviewed publications.

2. Completed Declaration of Interests (DOI) form
• PDF and Word versions of the DOI form, along with documents providing guidance on completing the DOI form can be downloaded at https://extranet.who.int/dataform/258175

3. Signed Confidentiality Undertaking
• This document can be downloaded at https://extranet.who.int/dataform/258175

Process for selection of experts

• Each curriculum vitae will be reviewed to assess whether the applicant meets the qualifications and has relevant expertise in the subject matter areas listed above.

• Declaration of Interest forms will be reviewed. Any potential or perceived conflicts of interest disclosed in the Declaration of Interests form will be considered in the selection process.

• In addition to subject matter expertise, the selection of experts will also take into consideration diversity and complementarities of expertise, a balance of genders and balanced representation from FAO/WHO geographic regions including developing and developed countries.

• Representatives of commercial organizations may not serve as experts. They may be invited to attend part of the meeting as external resource persons, if required, but may not be present at the meeting when recommendations are being formulated.

Selected experts will be invited to contribute only in their individual capacity as experts and will not represent their government, nor their institution. The names and brief biographies of selected experts will be published to the FAO and WHO websites.

Completing the updating of requirements for all nutrients is expected to take several years, as nutrients will be updated 3 – 4 at a time. The expert group will be expected to meet once a year. The meetings will be in English only and all documents including systematic reviews will be prepared in English. Travel and per diem to attend the meetings will be covered by FAO and WHO. No honoraria will be provided.

Documents must be submitted by 15 September 2019 to be eligible for consideration. Documents can be submitted through the online submission form at https://extranet.who.int/dataform/258175. Detailed instructions for submitting documents are provided in the online form.

This call for experts is also cross-posted at http://www.fao.org/nutrition/requirements/.

Questions regarding the call for experts should be addressed to NPUinfo@who.int.

For more information please visit https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/callforexperts-nutrient-requirements/.

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