Empowering our profession
Our founding statement of aims and objectives begins as follows. 'The World Public Health Nutrition Association is the voice of public health nutrition as taught and practiced worldwide. It is created at a critical time in history, when the need for collective action in the public interest is most urgent and pressing... We encourage policy-makers and decision takers, at all levels from global to local, to promote equitable and sustainable access to adequate, enjoyable, appropriate and nourishing food. This is essential for population health and well-being, and also for social, cultural and economic integrity, and to conserve the living and physical world'.
This implies that we are well trained, well supported, and are indeed prepared and able to act professionally. We therefore need to establish our own standards and regulations for becoming and remaining a qualified and recognised public health nutritionist, as is normal within other professions.
Our certification scheme
The Council agrees that the Association has a key role to play in setting standards and regulating the profession. Such regulations need to include an agreed code of professional practice and ethics. In turn this means that what we need as a profession is a system of certification as an international public health nutritionist. This will benefit registered members of the Association in many ways. Certification will raise our status as professionals, accelerate the process of creating and sustaining networks, help in raising funds for research and practice projects, and reassure employers, colleagues, journalists and others we work with. It will also be of special support to our members in less resourced parts of the world.
There is another reason why as a profession we need to agree and follow our own standards and regulations. Other professions are disciplined. We are not. Other professions have internal debates and disagreements, but when it comes to making public statements they and their professional bodies usually do their best to speak with one voice, and have a mechanism for doing so. By contrast, as we all know, if a politician or a journalist were to ask ten people calling themselves nutritionists, including some with academic qualifications, what is a healthy diet, they probably would get ten answers, mostly conflicting. We have the same problem with issues of hunger and undernutrition in impoverished parts of the world.
Debate is essential, consensus positions are subject to new evidence, and paradigms shift. But there is much unnecessary and even foolish confusion and conflict within the nutrition profession. This damages us, and it is also a reason why so many people suffer hunger, and all that this means. A code of practice, internal regulation, and a certification scheme, won't amount to magic solutions. But they will all help us, our work, and our cause.
Help to make it all happen
A number of Association members have already worked towards establishing a certification scheme across Europe. The proposal of the Association Council now, is that we develop a worldwide scheme. Beginning now, an Association working group convened by Roger Hughes, Association vice-president responsible for professional affairs, is developing a draft of this scheme. The draft will be circulated to all members for comments. Better still, we are now asking members to offer to join the working group, or else to give advice and input now. Please now contact: