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Competency standards


Workforce development is a central pillar of nutrition capacity building in all countries and it is underpinned by the following points:

  • A critical pre-requisite for developing the public health nutrition workforce is understanding what work (core functions) is required to effectively achieve nutrition objectives.
  • An understanding and consensus on the competencies (that combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes required to perform this work) are needed to inform workforce preparation.
  • Workforce preparation and training needs curriculum and learning and teaching methods that develop the competencies required to effectively perform this work.
  • Curricula for courses need to be revised to match local circumstances, and there is a need for work-based experience to help students develop their skills. To achieve all of this requires high-level support, proper manpower planning and a strong professional structure to set and help maintain standards.


Competency standards for the public health nutrition profession

In 2011 a competency working group consisting of key participants in the Porto and Rio Congresses published a competency framework report. The following figure illustrates the 18 discrete competency building blocks outlined in this framework.

Figure 1: Competency building blocks for effective public health nutrition practice

figure 2


This work was soon after published in World Nutrition, which followed soon after with letters that have contributed to the debate about what competencies we need to develop as public health nutrition professionals. Follow the debate by reading the following letters:

Letter from Schuftan and Jonsson
Reply from Hughes et al
Reply from Schuftan and Jonsson

This was also followed by another World Nutrition commentary by Helene Deslisle, published in June 2012 with a focus on how to develop nutrition capacity in Africa.

The World Public Health Nutrition Competency framework is a work in progress and continues to be informed by ongoing scholarship and debate worldwide, including projects and studies in Iran, Australia, Canada and Brazil to name a few.

Stay tuned to this page for updates on these projects as they come to hand.