Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Graduate Level Training in Nutrition: An Integrated Model for Capacity Building- A National Report

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Graduate Level Training in Nutrition: An Integrated Model for Capacity Building- A National Report

Article excerpt

Introduction

Iran is a large middle income country with a population size of about 75 million of whom about 50% are less than 20 years of age (1). The country has demonstrable nutrition-related health problems spanning the range of under-nutrition, poverty-related food insecurity, micronutrient deficiencies, and diet related chronic diseases of adulthood (2).

Although Iran has been active in human nutrition training for the past five decades both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, newly emerging requirements and recent developments within the national planning and executive agencies have indicated the need to restructure and strengthen ongoing training programs as well as to develop new programs that can address present and future needs.

At present, Iran's academic nutrition community is relatively small and narrowly focused to be able to address adequately the needs. Existing curricular programs do not produce the required range of skills and competencies. Moreover, neither the curricular programs nor the technical expertise of key academic institutions covers the entire spectrum of effective program management and intersectoral participation and involvement. Given this reality, the Nutrition Department (ND) of Iran's Ministry of Health and Medical Education (MOHME) initiated a curricular reform to develop and offer responsive graduate programs in nutrition that will fill the existing gaps in nutrition training and eventually improve nutrition policymaking and program development, implementation and evaluation. ND started this great endeavor with hiring an experienced consultant in Nutrition Education programs to analyze the situation of Nutrition education in Iranian universities. The results of that situation analysis induced ND to call for request for proposals for a project entitled "Graduate Training in Nutrition". The specific task was to provide international consultation with regard to the development of seven new graduate programs, to be housed in three separate institutions, but coordinated so that together they form a broad multidisciplinary resource for graduate education and research. These seven degree programs are 1) MSc and PhD in Molecular/Cellular Nutrition, to be housed in the Iran University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (IUMS); 2) MSc and PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology, to be housed in Tehran University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (TUMS); and 3) MSc and PhD in Food Policy and Nutrition Intervention, and an MSc-level program in Community Nutrition to be housed in Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (SBUMS). The programs were prepared with technical assistance of selected faculty members from the three Iranian universities, as well as International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) and the University of Philippines at Los Baños (UPLB). The development of these programs was made possible through a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank) under the Second Primary Health and Nutrition Project in MOHME.

The overall purpose of the proposed training project was to improve the quality and appropriateness of nutrition knowledge with impact on program and policy, and consequently the nutrition status of the population, consistent with the nutrition and health objectives of the MOHME. This project was expected to provide an opportunity for a rapid and substantial strengthening of the human resource capacity in the field of nutrition in Iran.

Background

Over the last three decades, Iran has established an extensive Primary Health Care network and as a result, infant and child (under 5 years of age) mortality rates have fallen significantly (from 122/1000 and 191/1000 respectively in 1970, to 15.3/1000 and 22.5/1000 respectively in 2010) (3), and life expectancy from birth has risen considerably (71.6 years) (3). Over 98% of the population has access to health services and 97% of births are attended by trained health staff (4). …

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