News & Media

April 17 and 18, 2013
2nd USEK International Nutrition Conference

On Wednesday April 17, 2013, under the patronage of the Minister of Public Health, His Excellency Mr. Ali Hassan Khalil, the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) inaugurated its 2nd International Nutrition Conference entitled: “Health and Food Security”. The inauguration session was held in the presence of the Minister of Public Health’s representative, Dr. Assaad Khoury, the President of the University, Rev. Fr. Hady Mahfouz, the General Director of the Notre Dame de Secours University Hospital – Byblos, Rev. Fr. Michel Eliane, the Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Rev. Fr. Joseph Wakim, deans, directors, professors and students, along with doctors and experts from many Arab and European countries, the USA, Canada and Australia.

Following the Lebanese National Anthem, the Head of the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Dr. Rony Abboud, stated that heart and kidney diseases, as well as cancer and obesity, have become dangerously widespread, especially among children, in the past two decades. These Diseases are directly linked to nutritional systems. Studies show that healthy food and a good level of nutrition can contribute to decreasing the cost of healthcare. He concluded by declaring that the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences is celebrating this year its Silver Jubilee.

The Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Fr. Dr. Joseph Wakim, indicated that “There is a fear today stemming from the fact that the principles of decent and healthy life are divorced from the principle of equality among all humans… The current situation does not lead to optimism, in fact hundreds of millions of people live under the poverty line, deprived from dignity; one person over seven is undernourished, and he/she might be getting unsafe food given the absence of safety standards related to agriculture, production, exportation and consumption…” He hoped that this conference will be a scientific platform to awaken the conscience of people, raise awareness and come up with targeted recommendations which can re-establish the positive link between food security and health for everyone.

The General Director of the Notre Dame de Secours University Hospital - Byblos, Rev. Fr. Michel Eliane, declared that “The Nutrition Department in the hospital provides good quality food and nutrition services to meet the needs of the patients. It is committed to evidence-based guidance and a culture related to nutrition aimed at achieving the highest rates of nutrition among patients according to the standards set by the Ministry of Health in Lebanon and to the international standards for quality assurance and improvement.”

The President of the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Rev. Fr. Hady Mahfouz, said that “The subject of this conference is at the core of the mission of the University and that of the Lebanese Maronite Order. The focus of our University is on the wellbeing of humans and society; humans, any and every human being, without discrimination, and all the aspects of life including health, physical, psychological and spiritual aspects. There is no doubt that the issue of nutrition is directly related to human beings and their development, along with the environment and the entire universe.” He continued, “The participation of every individual in good nutrition is not the mere decision of what they eat or drink, but it is their contribution in this issue through shouldering the responsibility related to good quality food, each according to their position: the legislator, the decision-maker, parents, a member of a university or school.”

Finally, the representative of the Minister of Public Health, Dr. Assaad Khoury, said that “When we talk about health and food security, we talk about food, its components, its link to relevant policies, its cost; we also talk about lifestyles, media and publicity. Moreover, the subject includes the environment and its direct link to health; poverty and its influence on the quality of life. Food security is linked to the monitoring of food production, storage and marketing. In the Ministry of Public Health, and with the support of the World Health Organization, we are working on the disease monitoring system in the Lebanese regions. We also set the cornerstones of the national laboratory to monitor food and medicine.”

Afterwards, the first session entitled “Nutrition in Disease Management and Prevention: A Pillar or a Part?” was held and included two round tables entitled “Obesity is the Question: What will be the Answer - a Scalpel, a Tablet or a Diet?” and “An Evidence-Based Look at Antioxidants and Polyphenols for Healthy Hearts”. The second session was held on day two, Thursday April 18, 2013, on “Food Safety and Security: Meeting Tomorrow’s Demand”. The third session followed tackled the issue of “Nutrition in Community Health: A look at the Future”.

Holy Spirit University of Kaslik
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