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Workforce development: moving forward

The Association is moving forward with its actions on workforce development. We are now launching our Professional Affairs section of the website, developed by our Professional Affairs Secretary Roger Hughes, where we describe key action areas that have at its focus supporting the broad professionalization of public health nutrition as a practice discipline, in order to building nutrition capacity. These are work in progress, with varying degrees of progress to date. Within the limitations of our own current capacity we are enthusiastic to work with partners to take this work forward.

Capacity Building has been a major pre-occupation of the Associations leadership since 2006 when the Association formed after the Barcelona World Public Health Nutrition Congress. A major step forward was taken by the Association when we held a workshop during the second World Public Health Nutrition Congress in Porto in September 2010. The workshop initiated a dialogue amongst a working group that set a plan of action that is still rolling out almost 3 years later. During the World Nutrition Congress in Rio 2012, a follow-up workshop was held, with many of the same participants that attended in Porto attending. More information about the workshops can be found here.

Since Porto the advocacy paper has been discussed and reviewed extensively, and has recently been published in Public Health Nutrition. In this paper, a framework is proposed to help shape the capacity needs assessment, which covers four dimensions of capacity development, namely the system, organization, workforce and community levels.

The lead author, Roger Shrimpton, highlighted that efforts to establish a framework for developing nutrition capacity for LMICs began two decades ago at an IUNS meeting in Manila. The concept of a national training pyramid was agreed in Manila, with three types of functions: policy/decision makers; researchers/planners/trainers; programme implementers. UNSCN created a capacity development group in 2000 with UNU and IUNS as chairs established regional task forces. When this group last met in 2008 it was reported that it was difficult to retain young faculty and that there was a lack of enthusiasm among donor agencies for building capacity. Workforce development, whilst central to nutrition capacity development assessment and strategic planning, is not in itself adequate and a broader more conceptual approach is needed.

We are also working to develop Competency Standards for our profession. A series of papers and a framework have been published, and can be accessed here.

Finally, we will soon be launching our Global Certification System for public health nutritionists as part of our commitment to, and responsibility for, assisting the professionalization of the public health nutrition workforce worldwide. The certification system is planned to go live from July 2013. All instructions, applications templates and other details will be posted at this site in June.

We are currently looking for WPHNA members who would be interested in acting as Certification reviewers. More details will be posted soon, but you can already indicate your interest

by sending an email to Roger Hughes, WPHNA Secretary for Professional Affairs, at rohughes@bond.edu.au

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