04 October 2012
From Nutrition Education to Nutrition Leadership
But what is nutrition education? To me, the term feels a bit archaic.
I was at an excellent session on Nutrition Education, chaired by Paul Amuna.
The session helped me clarify my own rather biased thinking about the landscape of needs for nutrition education:
1. Make sure nutrition professionals (whether front line workers or policy people) are updated with the latest thinking on nutrition science and implementation.
2. Equip nutrition professionals with the “non-traditional” skills--leadership, influencing, communicating, demonstrating impact—needed to work effectively across sectors.
3. Equip the non-nutrition professionals who affect (or could affect) nutrition profoundly with some basic understanding of nutrition. These non-nutrition professionals are the doctors, the agriculturalists, the social welfarists, the educators, the economists, and the politicians.
4. But to equip these non-nutritionists who are potentially strong allies, nutrition professionals need to understand a little about how they think: how do they frame issues and what are their professional drivers? This means nutrition professionals being exposed to one or more of these sectors in their own training.
Working across boundaries is hard. What’s in it for the nutrition professionals? Resources directed to nutrition, resources that they can have some influence over. What’s in it for the non nutritionists? Demonstrable impact. Development policies and interventions are under increasing pressure to demonstrate human level impact—linking up to anthropometric indicators is a good way of doing it.
All of these skills have the hallmarks of leadership: not being satisfied with the status quo, thinking broadly, building alliances, taking risks, communicating effectively—whatever the level you are working at.
Maybe the time has come to begin thinking about nutrition leadership instead of nutrition education.
In that spirit, The African Nutrition Leadership Programme is an African-led initiative, and one that it is essential to support.
Posted by Lawrence Haddad at 08:53