Who is the nutrition workforce in the Western Cape?
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The aim of the present study was to determine the current nutrition staffing profile of the Integrated Nutrition Programme (INP) in
Department of Health in the Western Cape, and establish whether it is adequate to meet the objectives of the INP.
Method: Self-administered questionnaires compiled in English were used as the main data collection instrument for nutrition staff in districts and at hospitals (n = 647). Eight individual questionnaires, one per staff category, were developed and utilised in the study.
Results: Foodservice workers were the largest group of nutrition personnel (n = 509; 79%), followed by dieticians (n = 64; 10%), managers (n = 31; 5%), auxiliary workers (n = 28; 4%), and administrative workers (n = 15; 2%). Sixty-two per cent of the nutrition workforce was located in urban areas and 38% in rural districts. Hospital and district dieticians experienced common problems, as well as specific differences. Regarding problems, both categories referred to limited resources, inadequate number of available posts, and lack of acknowledgement and support from administrative and supply chain management. District dieticians were also hampered by lack of space for consultations, poor referrals from doctors, insufficient posts for nutrition advisers, and difficulty in communicating with Xhosa-speaking patients. Hospital dieticians were hampered by insufficient interaction with district dieticians and lack of dieticians for specialised units. They also mentioned that poor salaries were affecting morale. Recommendations such as additional posts for dieticians, improved conditions of service and salaries, increased advocacy for nutrition, and a number of human resources recommendations were made, and should be considered if the INP objectives are to be met.