Nestl? has taken another judicious step by boosting the expertise of healthcare professionals in Central and West Africa through a number of training programmes, scientific symposiums, conferences and workshops covering topics that are related to maternal and infant nutrition and health.
The company is doing this through the Nestl? Nutrition Institute Africa (NNIA), which is part of the Nestl? Nutrition Institute (NNI). The NNI is a non-profit organisation that offers a variety of on-and offline unbranded educational services to healthcare professionals,with a focus on the first 1,000 days of life from conception to the child?s second birthday.
The NNIA aims to train African paediatricians and healthcare professionals on gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition to boost their competences in these specific areas.
In Centraland West Africa, a significant shortage of qualified healthcare professionalsimpacts on the countries? ability to fight disease and provide essential,life-saving interventions. By investing in their training and education, Nestl? aims to build healthcare professionals? capacity in nutrition and develop strong networks of professional experts.
The NNIA is a nutrition resource for healthcare professionals in Africa and a multi-disciplinary educational organisation dedicated to the science of nutrition on the continent.
In 2014 alone, about 6,500 healthcare professionals have been trained through NNIA activities. Nearly 9,000 of them are also registered to its website.
The NNIA collaborates with professional associations and healthcare institutions across the region, and supports scientists through annual scientific awards with award money invested into research. It also offers short and middle term scholarships to healthcare professionals in public health nutrition.
Building capacity in maternal and infant nutrition as part of NNIA?s activities, the annual CWAR Advanced Nutrition Workshop (CANUP) brings together healthcare professionals such as doctors and paediatricians from allover Central and West Africa.
The CANUP workshop, organised in both English and French-speaking countries, shares resources, research and training on maternal and infant nutrition based on the latest scientific data.
Since 2011, atotal of 275 paediatricians have received training, who in turn, went on to train about 3,000 other healthcare professionals.
This year,Nestl? piloted the first NNIA International Course in Applied Nutrition (ICAN) aimed at nurses and midwives from English-speaking countries in Central and West Africa.
The course aims to provide them with practical nutrition knowledge and the latestevidence-based nutrition related topics for use in their daily roles. Topics include the importance of nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life and long- term health.
After this successful pilot, Nestl? is considering rolling out the course to French-speaking countries in the region next year .
The NNIA, in collaboration with the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN), also offers postgraduate training to African paediatricians on gastroenterology and nutrition.
It aims to boost the number of trained paediatrics in these areas of expertise, who will then extend this knowledge to other healthcare professionals.
By: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/NewsGhana.com.gh