Developing a comprehensive nutrition workforce planning framework for the public health sector to respond to the nutrition-related burden in South Africa
Goeiman, Hilary Denice
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South Africa has not responded well to recommendations in national evaluation reports to address human resource challenges associated with the implementation of nutrition programmes and improved service delivery. Twenty-four years have passed since the dawning of democracy and the nutrition situation within the population has actually deteriorated, with persistently high levels of stunting in young children and the growing prevalence of overweight and obesity in all age groups. These conditions not only rob people of their potential, but they carry a high cost for the state and society as a whole. This study aimed to develop a comprehensive and empirically sound nutrition workforce development planning framework for the public health sector so that it is better equipped to address the nutrition-related burden of disease in South Africa. The study explored the provision of nutrition services in South Africa, focusing on the nutrition-specific work components of health personnel ‒ doctors, nurses, dietitians, nutritionists, health promoters and community health workers working at the primary health care level in the public health sector. Evidence-based workforce information was collected through a mixed methodology comprising: literature reviews, document reviews, analysis of scopes of practice, job descriptions, competencies, workforce surveys, key informant interviews and consensus assessments through the application of the Delphi technique. Permission was obtained to adapt and use questionnaires from an Australian workforce study. Ethical approval, permission to conduct the study and informed consent were obtained prior to the commencement of the interviews. Data was then analysed using descriptive statistics, content and thematic analysis and triangulation of all findings, followed by consensus assessments to describe the nutrition workforce and delineate the roles and functions thereof. The comprehensive planning framework that was developed was applied to the Western Cape province.