28 Feb 2017 18:50pm
WINDHOEK, 28 FEB (NAMPA) The Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) will next year introduce a Bachelor of Human Nutrition; its first nutrition undergraduate programme.
The university will be working with the United Nations Childrens Fund (Unicef) country office on the development and rollout of the new academic programme, and an agreement to this effect was signed here on Tuesday.
Speaking during the signing event, Unicef Country Representative, Micaela Marques de Sousa said she learned through the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2012 Land Scape Report that the Namibian Government had only one trained nutrition professional at the time. It also noted the lack of local tertiary nutrition qualifications.
An assessment by the Ministry of Health and Social Services in 2013 on human resources showed that Namibia had only five qualified nutritionists serving all 14 regions, whilst the ministry alone requires 46 dieticians and 24 nutritionists.
NUST Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tjama Tjivikua said during the signing ceremony the three organisations - the university, Unicef country office and Ministry of Health - are teaming up to address the need for trained nutritionists and dieticians.
He said resources need to be invested in curriculum development, rigorous training and in teaching research skills.
The impact of the academic programme being developed is immense; it is national or regional in outreach, he said.
Also speaking at the event, Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku said the Namibia Demographic and Health Survey of 2013 indicates that 24 per cent of children in Namibia under five-years-old are stunted (too short for their age), whilst six per cent are wasted (too thin) and 48 per cent suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.
Haufiku explained that the 24 per cent translated to 110 400 children being stunted, meaning they may not reach their full potential and mental development, which is a serious national concern.
He said Namibia has good policies and strategies to address all these inequalities, but what is lacking is proper implementation.
We can only realise proper implementation of these policies if we have the skilled manpower and capacity in the country, the minister said.