Building systemic capacity for nutrition: training towards a professionalised workforce for Africa

Basma Ellahi, Reginald Annan, Swrajit Sarkar, Paul Amuna, Alan A. Jackson

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    8 Citations (Scopus)


    The fundamental role played by good nutrition in enabling personal, social and economic development is now widely recognised as presenting a fundamental global challenge that has to be addressed if major national and international problems are to be resolved in the coming decades. The recent focus provided by the Millennium Development Goals and the Scaling-Up-Nutrition (SUN) movement has been towards reducing the extent of nutrition-related malnutrition in high-burden countries. This has served to emphasise that there is a problem of inadequate professional capacity in nutrition that is sufficiently widespread to severely limit all attempts at the effective delivery and sustainability of nutrition-related and nutrition-enabling interventions that have impact at scale. Many high-burden countries are in sub-Saharan Africa where there is a high dependency on external technical support to address nutrition-related problems. We have sought to explore the nature and magnitude of the capacity needs with a particular focus on achieving levels of competency within standardised professional pre-service training which is fit-for-purpose to meet the objectives within the SUN movement in Africa. We review our experience of engaging with stakeholders through workshops, a gap analysis of the extent of the problem to be addressed, and a review of current efforts in Africa to move the agenda forward. We conclude that there are high aspirations but severely limited human resource and capacity for training that is fit-for-purpose at all skill levels in nutrition-related subjects in Africa. There are no structured or collaborative plans within professional groups to address the wide gap between what is currently available, the ongoing needs and the future expectations for meeting local technical and professional capability. Programmatic initiatives encouraged by agencies and other external players, will need to be matched by improved local capabilities to address the serious efforts required to meet the needs for sustained improvements related to SUN in high-burden countries. Importantly, there are pockets of effort which need to be encouraged within a context in which experience can be shared and mutual support provided.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)496-504
    JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
    Issue number4
    Early online date15 Jun 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015


    • capacity building
    • nutrition training
    • Africa
    • professionalisation
    • competencies


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