Food insecurity remains a major cause of undernutrition in Africa. The evidence on the impact of food insecurity on health, human productivity and social well-being are well established as is the scientific data on the direct impact of undernutrition on infants and young children. Whilst attempts are being made to improve the situation of national food security as well as household and individual food insecurity, food scientists and health care workers have to deal with the clinical outcomes of undernutrition such as: mild, moderate and severe malnutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and others including non-communicable diseases.
We the African Nutrition Society recognise the important role that nutritionists and other allied health workers have to play in order to reduce the burden of malnutrition. We recognise the complex and inter dependence and manifestations of malnutrition and hence, the need to work with other health professionals and other sectors to deliver the best possible outcomes in the management and prevention of undernutrition.
Furthermore we recognize that in order to deliver the best form of care, we nutritionists as part of the health workforce need to ensure that training in nutrition is adequate to meet standard academic and professional benchmarks required for competencies in professional practice.
We also recognise the important role that nutritionists can, and will play in the training of other members of the healthcare system including physicians, nurses and community health workers. Our role goes beyond the management of acute malnutrition and also includes preventive actions in nutrition to promote, growth, development and health across the human life cycle.
Participants meeting at the 4th Africa Nutritional Epidemiology Conference (ANEC4) in Nairobi, Kenya on the 8th Day of October 2010 therefore call on the African Nutrition Society (ANS) to resolve:
- Nutritionists, physicians and other health professionals take responsibility for leadership in addressing the health consequences of food insecurity including maternal and child undernutrition and severe childhood malnutrition in all its forms, in recognition of the latter as an important cause of death and disability of children that requires urgent action by all relevant social actors.
- ANS members and others in the nutrition fraternity should assure that all nutritionists and related health professionals in Africa have the core elements of training to meet standard benchmarks and the competencies for certification for professional practice including training of others in the health workforce in screening, early identification and management of nutrition-related health conditions including severe malnutrition.
- Academic institutions in Africa will re-examine their curricula, training activities, continuing professional development (CPD) programmes and evaluation processes to ensure that,
- (a) they meet the standard international benchmarks for professional practice including the identification and treatment of severe malnutrition as a core competency;
- (b) that curricula includes training in newly emerging disciplines in public health nutrition that link food security to food consumption patterns and manifestations of all forms of malnutrition;
- (c) they include training modules on the role and contribution of other sectors and services towards improving access to quality and safe food and
- (d) skills and professional competencies are acquired in dissemination of research outcomes to policy and decision makers.