Who is the nutrition workforce in the Western Cape?

  • Hilary Goeiman Department of Health
  • Demetre Labadarios Human Sciences Research Council
  • Nelia P Steyn Human Sciences Research Council
  • Stephen Titus Department of Health
Keywords: dietitians, nutritionists, food service managers, competencies


Objectives: 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 dietitians (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 dietitians 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 dietitians 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 dietitians were hampered by insufficient interaction with district dietitians and lack of dietitians for specialised units. They also mentioned that poor salaries were affecting morale. Conclusion: Recommendations such as additional posts for dietitians, 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.

Author Biographies

Hilary Goeiman, Department of Health
M (Nutr)(RD.SA): Nutrition Directorate Department of Health Western Cape and Division of Human Nutrition Stellenbosch University South Africa
Demetre Labadarios, Human Sciences Research Council
Population Health Health Systems and Innovation Human Sciences Research Council
Nelia P Steyn, Human Sciences Research Council
Chief Research Specialist Centre for the Study of the Social and Environmental Determinants of Nutrition Human Sciences Research Council
Stephen Titus, Department of Health
B. Admin, BSc (Hons, Med Sci), Natl Higher Dipl Public Health, Natl Dipl Envir Health, Natl Cert Housing and Housing Managmnt Director: Comprehensive Health Programme Department of Health Western Cape
How to Cite
Goeiman, H., Labadarios, D., Steyn, N., & Titus, S. (2011). Who is the nutrition workforce in the Western Cape?. South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 24(2), 90-98. Retrieved from http://www.sajcn.co.za/index.php/SAJCN/article/view/505
Original Research