25 Jul 2019 IMU, SEAMEO RECFON Formalise Collaboration for Nutrition and Food Safety Research and Training in Southeast Asia
Kuala Lumpur, 23 July 2019 – International Medical University (IMU) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Food and Nutrition (SEAMEO RECFON) to collaborate in health and medical research on nutrition and food safety training in Southeast Asia.
The MoU was signed at the university’s Bukit Jalil campus by Prof Abdul Aziz Baba, Vice-Chancellor of IMU and Dr Muchtaruddin Mansyur, MD, Director of SEAMEO RECFON. Prof Winnie Chee, Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics and Dean of IMU’s School of Health Sciences and Dr Mokhammad Farid Maruf, Education and Cultural Attache, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Kuala Lumpur served as witnesses in the MoU signing. The MoU is effective this year until 2021.
|The main aims of the 3-year agreement are for IMU and SEAMEO RECFON to:|
|1) strengthen medical and health research and development;|
|2) jointly publish and present scientific data;|
|3) exchange research materials pertaining to nutrition and food safety; and|
|4) conduct joint training in the areas of nutrition and food safety.|
The agreement would also accommodate staff, postgraduate research and student exchanges through field visits, internships, and attendance to courses and other learning events.
As initial collaborative activities lined up for this year, both parties will conduct a series of online lectures on nutrition, and implement a Training Needs Assessment towards designing a food safety curriculum and module development for Southeast Asian participants.
Prof Aziz remarked that as a research-focused institution that highly regards educational excellence, IMU is committed to spearheading new developments to transform education and healthcare in Malaysia.
“IMU strongly believes in grasping opportunities in promoting stronger research collaboration and knowledge transfer with international partners. We are aligning our goals to drive the national agenda to improve the standards and quality of nutrition and food safety in the country.”
“The Division of Nutrition & Dietetics (N&D) has achieved recognition from the Ministry of Health as a centre for food handlers’ training and this is in line with our aspirations to be a centre of excellence for nutrition and health.”
“This agreement with SEAMEO RECFON is therefore timely as we have begun 3 months of comprehensively training food handlers, operators and dietitians and will be looking to constantly refresh our course with new material based on international food safety guidelines and the latest regional research findings to equip students with the best skills and knowledge to operate professionally in their trade,” he added.
What sets IMU apart from other food safety training centres is that it is the first private university to be accredited to offer the course and students will benefit from food safety and HACPP being already ingrained in the course as part of N&D. IMU is also recognised for its quality and strict management with close monitoring of its own cafeteria and food handlers resulting in the university winning the national Healthy Cafeteria and BeSS award in 2017, a status that is maintained in recent audits.
In his speech, Dr Muchtaruddin Mansyur remarked that it is imperative to emphasise the importance and raise the standards of food safety and nutrition in the region given the changing food consumption behaviour of people brought about by varied socio-economic and environmental factors. “There is a mistaken assumption that food contamination is inevitable in street foods. In Southeast Asia, millions of people depend on street foods as a source of nutrition”.
“However, consumers who are attracted by convenience and low prices may overlook aspects of hygiene or sanitation. Many food vendors and handlers lack an understanding of proper food-handling practices that are the potential causes for foodborne diseases.”
“This collaboration with IMU is therefore a step forward in creating better awareness, solutions and opportunities for intervention and improvement of food safety through customised trainings and research in the SEA region,” he added.
|About SEAMEO RECFON|
|SEAMEO is an intergovernmental organization established in 1965 among governments of Southeast Asian countries to promote regional cooperation in education, science and culture in the region. SEAMEO RECFON was established in 1967 as a Regional Centre for Community Nutrition under the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Tropical Medicine (TROPMED) Network until it acquired its current name and status in 2011. It is one of the 26 regional centres of excellence of the SEAMEO. The Centre carries out six mandates, namely: education, capacity building, research, information dissemination, community development, and partnership toward improving the quality of human resources in Southeast Asia in the area of food and nutrition. The Centre is hosted by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia through its Ministry of Education and Culture and is considered as a non-stock, non-profit regional organization. In addition, the Centre is located within the campus of Universitas Indonesia, and also serves as the University’s research centre on nutrition under the name of Pusat Kajian Gizi Regional Universitas Indonesia (PKGR UI).
A total of 282 alumni among whom are now holding strategic positions and leading nutrition development programs in their respective institutions and countries in the SEA region and beyond has benefited the Southeast Asian Nutrition Leadership Program (SEANLP) initiated by SEAMEO RECFON. Aside from the SEANLP and through its other face-to-face and online training courses, the Centre has also built the capacities of over 5,000 professionals which include university and school teachers, researchers, community development workers and program managers from government and non-government sectors who are engaged with food and nutrition as well as health related activities.
The Centre’s research programme and activities are guided by its 5 research lines, namely 1) Best Practices in Nutritional Assessment, 2) Food Security & Food Safety, 3) Nutrigenomics & Nutrigenetics, 4) Nutritional-Related Diseases, 5) Nutrition Policy and Program that are carried out by the Centre’s program staff in collaboration with researchers from partner-institutions at national and regional levels.
The Centre is currently operating under its 2nd 5-Year Development Plan which focuses on “Pre-maternal and Child Nutrition with Emphasis on School Programs and Food-based Approach”. Thus, the Centre implements two flagship programs called “Nutrition Goes to School (NGTS)” aiming to develop Active, Well-nourished, and Smart school children from primary to secondary schools, and “Early Childhood Care, Nutrition, and Education (ECCNE)” with the objective to facilitate the provision of an integrated environment for the growth and development of infant and young children.
For more information, please log on to their website at https://www.seameo-recfon.org/en/