An e-learning course to support monitoring of food industry compliance with regulation to promote healthier diets in South-East Asia
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The George Institute for Global Health, Australia
South-East Asia Regional Office, World Health Organization, India
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1455
Background and Objective: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends governments introduce regulations to support healthier food environments and address the growing burden of diet-related disease. Monitoring and enforcing food industry compliance with regulation is critical. However, guidance to support the development, implementation and improvement of monitoring systems is limited, particularly in low- and middle-income country (LMIC) settings. The George Institute for Global Health and WHO South-East Asia Regional Office collaborated to develop technical tools for countries across the region to support monitoring and enforcement efforts. Methods: This work was undertaken in several phases. Firstly, relevant literature and frameworks for monitoring food regulation and other related areas such as alcohol control were reviewed. An initial set of monitoring methods was then developed, including consideration of relevant applications, authority and resources required, strengths and weaknesses, and potential barriers to implementation. The feasibility of application in LMICs was tested through targeted consultation with government and non-government stakeholders across the region. This informed a final, tailored set of recommendations for building monitoring systems. Materials were then translated into an e-learning course, further tested with stakeholders, to facilitate engagement with the policy recommendations. Results: An e-learning course on monitoring food industry compliance with regulation is now available on the OpenWHO platform. This provides an overview of principles that support effective regulation, outlines a stepped set of recommendations for effective monitoring methods that can be adapted to country contexts, and discusses the need for effective enforcement and reporting systems. Case studies of regional and global practices are provided as examples. Conclusions: These practical and accessible materials will support governments across the South-East Asia region and elsewhere to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of regulations to address diet-related disease. Overall, we suggest a risk-based approach that considers country priorities and available resources is likely to be most effective.