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Kupka R.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | Kupka R.,Harvard University
Maternal and Child Nutrition | Year: 2015

Folic acid and iron supplementation has historically been recommended as the preferred anaemia control strategy among preschoolers in sub-Saharan Africa and other resource-poor settings, but home fortification of complementary foods with multiple micronutrient powders (MNPs) can now be considered the preferred approach. The World Health Organization endorses home fortification with MNPs containing at least iron, vitamin A and zinc to control childhood anaemia, and calls for concomitant malaria control strategies in malaria endemic regions. Among other micronutrients, current MNP formulations generally include 88μg folic acid (corresponding to 100% of the Recommended Nutrient Intake). The risks and benefits of providing supplemental folic acid at these levels are unclear. The limited data available indicate that folate deficiency may not be a major public health problem among children living in sub-Saharan Africa and supplemental folic acid may therefore not have any benefits. Furthermore, supraphysiological, and possibly even physiological, folic acid dosages may favour Plasmodium falciparum growth, inhibit parasite clearance of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP)-treated malaria and increase subsequent recrudescence. Even though programmatic options to limit prophylactic SP use or to promote the use of insecticide treated bed nets may render the use of folic acid safer, programmatic barriers to these approaches are likely to persist. Research is needed to characterise the prevalence of folate deficiency among young children worldwide and to design safe MNP and other types of fortification approaches in sub-Sahara Africa. In parallel, updated global guidance is needed for MNP programmes in these regions. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Sodjinou R.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | Lezama I.,UNICEF Cameroon | Asse M.-L.,Ministry of Higher Education | Okala G.,Ministry of Public Health | And 5 more authors.
Global Health Action | Year: 2016

Background: There is consensus among stakeholders in Cameroon on the need to develop and strengthen human resource capacity for nutrition. This study was conducted to provide a comprehensive mapping of the current capacity for tertiary-level human nutrition training in Cameroon. Design: Participating institutions included university-level institutions offering dedicated nutrition degree programs or other programs in which nutrition courses were taught. A semi-structured questionnaire administered during in-person interviews was used to collect data on existing programs and content of training curricula. Nutrition curricula were reviewed against the following criteria: intended objectives, coverage of nutrition topics, and teaching methods. Results: In total, five nutrition degree programs (four undergraduate programs and one master's program) were identified. Three additional programs were about to be launched at the time of data collection. We did not find any doctorate degree programs in nutrition. All the undergraduate programs only had little focus on public health nutrition whereas the master's program in our sample offered a good coverage of all dimensions of human nutrition including basic and applied nutrition. The predominant teaching method was didactic lecture in all the programs. We did not find any formal documentation outlining the competencies that students were expected to gain upon completion of these programs. Nutrition courses in agricultural and health schools were limited in terms of contact hours and scope. Public health nutrition was not covered in any of the health professional schools surveyed. We found no institution offering in-service nutrition training at the time of the study. Conclusions: Based on our findings, we recommend that nutrition training programs in Cameroon be redesigned to make them more responsive to the public health needs of the country. © 2016 Roger Sodjinou et al.

Sodjinou R.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | Bosu W.K.,West Africa Health Organization WAHO | Fanou N.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | Deart L.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | And 3 more authors.
Global health action | Year: 2014

BACKGROUND: Although it is widely accepted that lack of capacity is one of the barriers to scaling up nutrition in West Africa, there is a paucity of information about what capacities exist and the capacities that need to be developed to accelerate progress toward improved nutrition outcomes in the region.OBJECTIVE: To systematically assess the current capacity to act in nutrition in the West Africa region and explore cross-country similarities and differences.DESIGN: Data were collected from 13 West African countries through interviews with government officials, key development partners, tertiary-level training institutions, and health professional schools. The assessment was based on a conceptual framework of four interdependent levels (tools; skills; staff and infrastructure; and structures, systems and roles). In each of the surveyed countries, we assessed capacity assets and gaps at individual, organizational, and systemic levels.RESULTS: Important similarities and differences in capacity assets and gaps emerged across all the surveyed countries. There was strong momentum to improve nutrition in nearly all the surveyed countries. Most of the countries had a set of policies on nutrition in place and had set up multisectoral, multi-stakeholder platforms to coordinate nutrition activities, although much remained to be done to improve the effectiveness of these platforms. Many initiatives aimed to reduce undernutrition were ongoing in the region, but there did not seem to be clear coordination between them. Insufficient financial resources to implement nutrition activities were a major problem in all countries. The bulk of financial allocations for nutrition was provided by development partners, even though some countries, such as Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal, had a national budget line for nutrition. Sporadic stock-outs of nutrition supplies were reported in most of the countries as a result of a weak logistic and supply chain system. They also had a critical shortage of skilled nutrition professionals. There was limited supervision of nutrition activities, especially at lower levels. Nigeria and Ghana emerged as the countries with the greatest capacities to support the expansion of a nutrition workforce, although a significant proportion of their trained nutritionists were not employed in the nutrition sector. None of the countries had in place a unified nutrition information system that could guide decision-making processes across the different sectors.CONCLUSIONS: There is an urgent need for a shift toward wider reforms for nutrition capacity development in the West Africa region. Addressing these unmet needs is a critical first step toward improved capacity for action in nutrition in the region.

Sodjinou R.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | Fanou N.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | Deart L.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | Tchibindat F.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | And 4 more authors.
Global Health Action | Year: 2014

Background: There is a dearth of information on existing nutrition training programs in West Africa. A preliminary step in the process of developing a comprehensive framework to strengthen human capacity for nutrition is to conduct an inventory of existing training programs. Objective: This study was conducted to provide baseline data on university-level nutrition training programs that exist in the 16 countries in West Africa. It also aimed to identify existing gaps in nutrition training and propose solutions to address them. Design: Participating institutions were identified based on information provided by in-country key informants, UNICEF offices or through internet searches. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews during on-site visits or through self-administered questionnaires. Simple descriptive and bivariate analyses were performed. Results: In total, 83 nutrition degree programs comprising 32 B.Sc. programs, 34 M.Sc. programs, and 17 Ph.D. programs were identified in the region. More than half of these programs were in Nigeria. Six countries (Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, The Gambia, and Togo) offered no nutrition degree program. The programs in francophone countries were generally established more recently than those in anglophone countries (age: 3.5 years vs. 21.4 years). Programs were predominantly (78%) run by government-supported institutions. They did not provide a comprehensive coverage of all essential aspects of human nutrition. They were heavily oriented to food science (46%), with little emphasis on public health nutrition (24%) or overnutrition (2%). Annual student intakes per program in 2013 ranged from 3 to 262; 7 to 40; and 3 to 10, respectively, for bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs while the number of graduates produced annually per country ranged from 6 to 271; 3 to 64; and 1 to 18, respectively. External collaboration only existed in 15% of the programs. In-service training programs on nutrition existed in less than half of the countries. The most important needs for improving the quality of existing training programs reported were teaching materials, equipment and infrastructures, funding, libraries and access to advanced technology resources. Conclusions: There are critical gaps in nutrition training in the West Africa region. The results of the present study underscore the urgent need to invest in nutrition training inWest Africa. An expanded set of knowledge, skills, and competencies must be integrated into existing nutrition training curricula. Our study provides a basis for the development of a regional strategy to strengthen human capacity for nutrition across the region. © 2014 Roger Sodjinou et al.

Sodjinou R.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | Bosu W.K.,West Africa Health Organization WAHO | Fanou N.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | Deart L.,UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa | And 3 more authors.
Global health action | Year: 2014

BACKGROUND: Health professionals play a key role in the delivery of nutrition interventions. Improving the quality of nutrition training in health professional schools is vital for building the necessary human resource capacity to implement effective interventions for reducing malnutrition in West Africa. This study was undertaken to assess the current status of nutrition training in medical, nursing and midwifery schools in West Africa.DESIGN: Data were collected from 127 training programs organized by 52 medical, nursing, and midwifery schools. Using a semi-structured questionnaire, we collected information on the content and distribution of nutrition instruction throughout the curriculum, the number of hours devoted to nutrition, the years of the curriculum in which nutrition was taught, and the prevailing teaching methods. Simple descriptive and bivariate analyses were performed.RESULTS: Nutrition instruction occurred mostly during the first 2 years for the nursing (84%), midwifery (87%), and nursing assistant (77%) programs and clinical years in medical schools (64%). The total amount of time devoted to nutrition was on average 57, 56, 48, and 28 hours in the medical, nursing, midwifery, and nursing assistant programs, respectively. Nutrition instruction was mostly provided within the framework of a dedicated nutrition course in nursing (78%), midwifery (87%), and nursing assistant programs (100%), whereas it was mainly embedded in other courses in medical schools (46%). Training content was heavily weighted to basic nutrition in the nursing (69%), midwifery (77%), and nursing assistant (100%) programs, while it was oriented toward clinical practice in the medical programs (64%). For all the programs, there was little focus (<6 hours contact time) on public health nutrition. The teaching methods on nutrition training were mostly didactic in all the surveyed schools; however, we found an integrated model in some medical schools (12%). None of the surveyed institutions had a dedicated nutrition faculty. The majority (55%) of the respondents rated nutrition instruction in their institutions as insufficient.CONCLUSIONS: The results of our study reveal important gaps in current approaches to nutrition training in health professional schools in West Africa. Addressing these gaps is critical for the development of a skilled nutrition workforce in the region. Nutrition curricula that provide opportunities to obtain more insights about the basic principles of human nutrition and their application to public health and clinical practice are recommended.

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