The South East Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) was established in 1965 in order to meet the needs of the Ministers, to share ideas, successes, and policies and to promote professionals, academic and cultural exchanges among countries in the region. The SEAMEO Charter was signed on June 28, 1968 by the representatives of the original member countries, i.e Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

To articulate its aim, the SEAMEO promotes and collaborates with the member states at their request, in joint projects and programs of mutual benefit concerning education, science, culture and assist the members in the development of education activities.  The projects and programs are carried out by the member states’ centers in areas of the countries/center’s specialization. The Centers conduct training courses, seminars, workshops, conferences, researches and development activities for human resource development.

At present, the SEAMEO member countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam.  SEAMEO has associate member countries i.e. Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and United Kingdom. It also has an affiliate member in Japan, Norway, and Thailand. SEAMEO’s programs and activities are carried out in 15 Regional Centers and the SEAMEO TROPMED Network.

The SEAMEO-TROPMED Regional Center for Community Nutrition (RCCN)

The SEAMEO-TROPMED RCCN UI is one of the 19 Regional Centers of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and one of the 4 Centers under the SEAMEO-Tropical Medicine and Public Health (TROPMED) – Network. The SEAMEO TROPMED Network operates through four Regional Centers specialized in different fields, i.e Medical Microbiology, Parasitology and Entomology (Malaysia), Public Health (the Philippines), Tropical Medicine (Thailand) and Community Nutrition (Indonesia). The regional centers are affiliated with academic and research institutions in respective member countries.

The SEAMEO-TROPMED RCCN UI is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of National Education – Republic of Indonesia through the Director General of Higher Education with the University of Indonesia as host institution. The Dean of the Faculty of Medicine University of Indonesia is the ex-officio Director. ‘Nutrition’ was chosen -at that time- as the specialization, because Indonesia was facing protein energy malnutrition, vitamin A deficiency and other nutrition problems.  Therefore, to overcome those problems, the Indonesian Government planned and carried out several programs and activities, among others by conducting different levels of nutrition training to build human resources.

The Center has participated in teaching, training and research activities for the region since 1970- at that time the Center was National Center.  It has offered post graduate training programs, starting with a Diploma in Applied Nutrition in 1970, followed, in addition to the Diploma program, by a Master of Science in Applied Nutrition in 1976 and a program leading to a Doctorate degree in Nutrition in 1981.  The theme of the training programs was adjusted to the changing needs for nutrition manpower in 1990 and in 1991 the first Diploma in Community Nutrition, then in 1992 the first Master of Science in Community Nutrition program were offered.  In 1992 two new programs namely the Field Research program and Short Courses were started.

The educational research activities as inseparable part of the degree training programs, addressed nutrition issues under focus of attention such as PEM, xerophthalmia, anemia, until late 1980’s;  and micronutrients, nutrition  & urbanization, nutrition and aging, and nutrition and diseases since 1990.

Our alumni are scattered over Asia, Africa and Europe. They have distinguished themselves in different nutrition related fields/institutions; to name but the majority of alumni from some of the SEAMEO member countries: in national primary level school education and primary health care in Malaysia, in national nutrition programs and research in the Philippines, at Universities, hospitals and primary health care programs in Thailand, in education (mainly medical), national nutrition programs and since 1990 also in the private sector in Indonesia.

Since its establishment the SEAMEO-TROPMED Center for Nutrition has trained nutrition professionals for institution capacity building. By 1992 this endeavor was developed into the formation of Collaboration Center(s) in Community Nutrition (CCCN) for training and research activities, in collaboration with RCCN, Jakarta. Collaboration was established with Andalas University/Provincial Health Office of West Sumatra (1992), with Hasanuddin University/Provincial Health Office of South Sulawesi (1993), with Sam Ratulangi University (1977) and with the National Institute for Nutrition (NIN), Vietnam (1997).

The Center’s development can not be separated from the role of some institutions/agency, i.e.

  • The USA. They contributed in kind and technical consultants services during the preparatory period and first years of establishment (late 1960’s – early 1970’s) helped the Center to conduct and improve its postgraduate regional Diploma program.
  • The Netherlands.  They assisted in the consolidation of the Master of Science program and in starting the Doctorate program through the assignment of a long term full time Consultant (late 1970’s until mid 1980’s)
  • The Canadian Lead Institutions through the Canadian International Agency (CIDA). The cooperation led to a partnership between the Center with the University of Manitoba (late 1980’s – mid 1990’s) to strengthen teaching, research programs and service functions including training of RCCN staff/student in Canada, a guest lecturer from Canada, provision of minor equipment for teaching & research and a short term Consultant who on his yearly visits also participated in lecturing and student’s research guidance.
  • The Government of Germany through the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit/GTZ) (early 1990-late 2000).  The cooperation jointly promoted the SEAMEO-TROPMED Center for Nutrition with a view to intensify the post graduate training programs in the fields of human nutrition and adopting its contents and organization to requirements in the South-East Asian Region. During the 10 years cooperation with the GTZ besides teaching, training and research, capacity has been built to provide consultation services in community nutrition and its related fields. Special attention has been paid to the Center’s human resource development leading to the growing number of qualified academic staff which is crucial to sustain the international quality of the training and research programs achieved.
  • The Industry Council for Development/ICD (started in 1993). Its primary activity, Food Safety Training, has been included in the Master program curriculum and “Train of Trainers” course was been conducted since then. For eighteen years, the ICD-SEAMEO Collaborative program has supported Food Safety Training activities throughout Southeast Asia.  Currently, the food safety training alumni are spread in 14 countries in Asia, Australia, Africa, and Latin America. A one day “Train the Trainer (TOT) workshop” has been attached to the food safety course with the main objective is to cascade the food safety training and dissemination of food safety messages.

The period of 2000 onwards is focused on institutional strengthening and expansion of activities and services.  The Centre would like to have greater autonomy while continuing to be  multi-disciplinary academic unit of the University of Indonesia to serve as a regional research and training centre with specialization in community nutrition. In that respect, the Centre expand its networking and linkages. The SEAMEO TROPMED RCCN UI is a long partner of the International Nutrition Foundation (INF) and Wageningen Unviersity. It is also part of CASNA (Capacity Strengthening of Nutrition in Asia) and IUNS (International Unions of Nutrition Sciences). The Centre also intensifies its networking and collaboration with other SEAMEO Centres under the framework of ‘Inter-Centre Collaboration’. An initiative of the Inter-Centre Collaboration with BIOTROP and SEAMOLEC is started in year 2009. It is expected that the networking will continue and expand in the future.

Besides maintaining and improving the existing training and research programs and activities, several innovations program have been carried out by the Center, among others Food and Nutrition Expert Forum, Regional Training in Nutrition, Nutrition Competition, inter-center collaboration for community services.

Recently, the important role of nutrition in defining health and wellbeing at all stages of the life course received full attention globally. A whole range of social, environmental, political and economic changes is needed to achieve sustainable nutrition security for all. SEAMEO TROPMED RCCN UI is revisiting the organizational perspective by taking the lessons learned from the past and taking into account the future challenges ahead.

The SEAMEO Regional Center for Food and Nutrition (SEAMEO RECFON)

On 26 January 2010, during the SEAMEO Council Conference, the proposal for the restructuring of the SEAMEO-TROPMED RCCN to become a full regional center, separating from SEAMEO TROPMED Network was approved.  The Center’s name is changed into SEAMEO Regional Center for Food and Nutrition/SEAMEO RECFON.  Rapid development of nutrition science including the need of comprehensive and multidisciplinary approaches to overcome the current nutritional problems is one of the main rationales of the change.

SEAMEO RECFON is one of the 21 SEAMEO Centers in the Southeast Asia region and one of the 6 SEAMEO Centers in Indonesia. Formerly, the Center is known as SEAMEO Tropical Medicine and Public Health/ TROPMED Regional Center in Community Nutrition/RCCN. Rapid development of nutrition science including the need on comprehensive and multidisciplinary approaches to handle the multifacets of current nutrition problems is one of the main rationales of the changing into SEAMEO RECFON in early 2011.