Food is Medicine: Promoting nutrition in global oncology

Studies show that children with cancer who are well nourished have better treatment outcomes than those who are malnourished. Unfortunately, many children in developing countries are malnourished even before they are diagnosed with cancer, their nutritional status only worsens due to the combined effect of the disease and its treatment.  Dr. Nyi Nyi Kyaw in Myanmar knows this reality first hand. As a dietician at Yangon Children’s Hospital in Myanmar, his job is to ensure the kids in the inpatient oncology unit receive adequate nutrition while they are hospitalized and to educate the children and their families on good nutrition practices when they are discharged.

Today on the podcast, we will discuss the nutritional landscape in Myanmar and what it means for pediatric oncology patients. We will hear from Dr. Kyaw and one of his collaborators in the project, Erin Gordon, a dietician at Boston Children’s Hospital. They, with their respective institutions, have collaborated to expand the nutritional services offered to the pediatric oncology patients in Myanmar. We will hear from them not only about the important work the program is doing, but also about the importance of proper nutrition in global oncology. After all, if better nourished kids have better treatment outcomes, then it should be acknowledged that food itself is medicine.


About the guests


Dr. Nyi Nyi Kyaw, M.B,B.S (YGN), M.Sc (Nutrition & Dietetics) (Bedfordshire, UK), Member of Nutrition Society (UK), is a clinical nutrition specialist at Haemato-Oncology Unit at Yangon Children Hospital . Yangon Child Hospital gives nutrition care to both inpatients and outpatients.  He is currently working as a volunteer in neurology unit for ketogenic diet in recurrent epilepsy. In Myanmar, he is also recognized as Social Influencer on Nutrition and Health Care with the name of Dr. Nutrition among the locals. That being said, he also participates in public engagement for nutrition education via radio, television and social media.

Erin Gordon, MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a registered dietitian at Boston Children’s Hospital working with pediatric oncology patients both in-and outpatient. Both domestically and internationally, Erin has focused her career on expanding nutrition access in under resourced communities  especially for those children and families living with chronic disease.  For the past 2 years Erin has been collaborating with Yangon Children’s Hospital to develop and implement an inpatient nutrition program for pediatric hematology and oncology patients.