Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa builds capacity of young paediatricians

By: Chioma Umeha

To reduce the rate of infant and child mortality in African countries, Nestlé Nutrition Institute Africa (NNIA) is in partnership with the European Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) to build capacity of young paediatricians. Dedicated to the science of nutrition in Africa, NNIA creates enabling platforms for health care professionals to discuss and share knowledge. 

The ‘ESPGHAN Goes Africa’ partnership is a postgraduate course, which focuses on important clinical problems in paediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition. The course aims to give medical practitioners in the continent a platform for networking and interacting with each other on clinical and scientific problems in the various institutions and countries where they work. Since its inception, over 100 paediatricians have been trained from various countries in Africa so far. 

This year’s participants were drawn from Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Uganda, and Tanzania. The first module ran between March 1 and 7. Students will continue e-learning training in nutrition and complete the course with the second module taking place in October 2015. Successful participants will be issued a certificate by the University of Cape Town. Supported by the Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition division of Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa, the course faculty is composed of experienced members of ESPGHAN. 

A cross-section of participants at Nestlé Healthy Kids Teachers’ workshop in Lagos... recently.
The course is made possible by a NNI grant to ESPGHAN. Commenting on the programme, one of the participants, Dr Agozie Ubezie from Nigeria said that the workshop has greatly improved her knowledge of gastrointestinal, liver and nutritional disorders in children. She said: “Through the involvement of an international faculty and participants from across Africa, ESPGHAN provided a great learning, knowledge and experience sharing opportunity”. Another participant, Dr Kwabena Agyeman from Ghana, added that “ESPGHAN is a very educative platform to train paediatricians in the area of Gastroentology and Hepatology since there are very few specialists in that area in Africa”. 

Nestlé is committed to implementing continuous nutrition education programmes for healthcare professionals. This is part of the company’s commitments to help address nutrition challenges. In 2014, a total of 6,535 of healthcare professionals from Central and West Africa participated in the different trainings organised by NNI A. NNI A is part of the Nestlé Nutrition Institute (NNI), the world’s largest private publisher of nutritional information. As well as having published more than 3000 papers, NNI offers a selection of more than 400 online conferences, and organizes scientific workshops and satellite symposia with leading nutrition experts.

This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 14,  2015.