Affordable healthy diets for all: The role of food fortification in a time of pandemic

On 7 October 2020, Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Nutrition Connect hosted a webinar on Affordable healthy diets for all: The role of food fortification in a time of pandemic. 


The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our economies, health and food systems and threatens to deepen the global crisis of malnutrition. Food fortification strategies are an essential part of the nutrition safety net during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond – helping to restore access to healthy diet when the availability of fresh produce and animal-source foods is limited. 

If you were not able to join us, you can watch the recording and the download slides below to learn more about how governments and businesses are rising to the challenge by implementing food fortification programmes despite the obstacles created by the pandemic.


Download the speakers' slides

Download the event flyer


COVID-19 is making it harder for vulnerable people to access healthy food

In a call for action endorsed by Food Fortification Initiative, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Helen Keller International, Iodine Global Network, Nutrition International, the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement, UNICEF and the World Food Programme, this brief asserts that tackling vitamin and mineral deficiencies, through fortification and other interventions, strengthens community health and resilience to disease and should be prioritized as part of global and national responses to COVID-19.

Download the press release  |  Download the brief


Moderator and speakers

Gerda Verburg (Moderator)
UN Assistant Secretary General and SUN Movement Coordinator


Since August 2016, Gerda Verburg (The Netherlands) has served as UN Assistant Secretary-General and Coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, working with the 60 country governments that lead the SUN Movement, united with UN agencies, civil society, business and donors, in a common mission to defeat malnutrition in all its forms. She was appointed by the UN Secretary-General based on her extensive experience in politics and international cooperation. In 2008, following her appointment the previous year as Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality of the Netherlands, Ms Verburg was elected as Chair of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 17).

From 2011, she served as Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the United Nations Rome- based agencies (FAO, IFAD and WFP). In 2013, she was elected as Chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS), and in 2014 she served as Chair of the Agenda Council for Food and Nutrition of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Anna Lartey
Director, Food and Nutrition, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Member of SUN Executive Committee


Professor Lartey is, since 2013, the Director of the Nutrition Division at the FAO. Prior to that she was professor and the Head of Department at the department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Ghana where she worked since 1986. She has won several honors and rewards related to her work on nutrition such as the African Nutrition Society award in 2014 as well as the Sight and Life nutrition leadership award. Between 2013 and 2017 she was also the president of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences.

Ms. Lartey worked as a researcher in Sub-Saharan Africa for 27 years on maternal and child nutrition. She has contributed to over 80 peer reviewed academic publications about nutrition and the food system and she has given over 100 keynote presentations. In 1998 she finished her PhD on international nutrition at the University of California in Davis.

Kazi Zebunnessa Begum
Additional Secretary, Health Services Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh


Ms Kazi Zebunnessa Begum, Additional Secretary & SUN Country Focal Point, Health Services Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is a career civil servant. She has been serving the country for the last 31 years in the different capacities of the government service.

Ms Kazi Zebunnessa Begum completed MSS degree from Department of Social Welfare under University of Dhaka. Then she completed MA on Development Science from Netherlands.

As an officer throughout her career, Kazi Zebunnessa Begum held responsible positions with outmost honesty and dignity. Apart from this, she worked in the field of Violence Against Women under Department Of Women Affairs and also worked as lien in Government Engagement & Sustainability Lead Project named “Platforms for Dialogue (P4D)” with British Council funded by European Union. 

She is actively involved in art, literature, social and cultural activities. Notable positions currently includes acting as National Commissioner, Bangladesh Girls Guide Association.

Engidu Legesse
General Manager at Guts Agro Industry PLC, Ethiopia


Engidu Legesse Yesuneh, is co-founder and general manager of Guts Agro Industry PLC, in Ethiopia, Graduated from Technical and Vocational College in Addis Ababa, worked for six years as an electrician and contractor before joining Addis Ababa University’s Institute of Technology where he studied electrical engineering for three years, received his masters in Global Management Programme at the University of Salford in England in 2016.

Subsequent to the studies, ventured in to business as entrepreneur by focusing on machineries and equipment for food processing. Learning from his experience started own trading company, and became one of the pioneers’ in private businesses in Ethiopia, that imported spare parts and machineries, and worked with clients in setting up equipment for food processing operations. A valuable experience that led to be a co-founder for Guts Agro in 2005.

Engidu is actively engaged in various business and public private partnership activities, a steering committee member in “Land for Life-Ethiopia”, Chair person for SBN-Ethiopia and the Advisory Board of Jimma University’s Agri-Business MBA Program.

He is a volunteer-mentor for US Embassy, Growth Africa and ICE-ADDIS to support start up agribusiness projects in Ethiopia helping groups of the young generation.


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