|Food and Nutrition Bulletin Volume 18, Number 2, 1997 (UNU Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 1997, 118 pages)|
|Working Group report on the role of short-term training for institutional capacity-building|
A careful review of past and present efforts towards addressing food and nutrition problems undoubtedly reveals that these have not had the desired impact of eliminating malnutrition. More alarming is that while undernutrition and specific deficiency disorders continue to afflict major population segments in developing countries, overnutrition and chronic non-communicable diseases are emerging as significant problems in those countries. The latter is due to improving economies and changing lifestyles. This situation is traceable to a narrow understanding of the multifactorial and multidimensional causation of malnutrition among nutritionists and other professionals whose work influences the food and nutrition environment of individuals and populations. It is therefore not surprising that most of the strategies and approaches have failed to address the root causes of problems. In simple terms, most of the scientific knowledge discovered by nutrition and related disciplines has not been translated into practical, specific, and directed actions necessary for the desired impact of reducing, if not eradicating, malnutrition among nutritionally vulnerable groups.
The magnitude and seriousness of the consequences of malnutrition, and the dwindling resources to implement strategies to generate effective action, present especially difficult challenges. The development of a human resource base at various levels (national, regional, international) that is equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to cope with specific needs and problems of various groups is a priority concern of this "silent emergency." The needed cadre should be able to formulate responsive and relevant policies, plans, programmes, projects, and specific interventions to minimize the problem.
Such a goal can be achieved in several non-exclusive ways. One is through formal, degree-granting programmes, and the other is through short-term training. The merits of the degree-oriented training programmes cannot be overemphasized. The prevailing constraints imposed on an academic institution by the limited possibilities for innovations and flexibility often are exacerbated by the inadequate opportunities for advanced training available to many on the staff. These realities provide an impetus for seeking innovative strategies, such as short-term training directed towards strengthening specific skills and upgrading specific knowledge areas. Here the opportunities for developing a cadre of more narrowly trained personnel are greater.