Thursday, September 13, 2012

India short of 236,000 dieticians

Diet-conscious Indians don't have enough dieticians to consult for a healthy diet. A comprehensive study on the shortage of dieticians conducted by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and submitted to the Union Ministry of Health says the nation is short by nearly 236,000 dieticians.

Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest shortage of trained dieticians at about 40,000, followed by Maharashtra (21,925), Bihar (20,385), West Bengal (17,847), Andhra Pradesh (16,351) and Madhya Pradesh (14,128). Similarly, Tamil Nadu was short of 14,097 dieticians, Rajasthan (13,288), Karnataka (11,823), Odisha (8,170), Kerala (6,534), Haryana (4,936) and Delhi (3,317).

Lack of proper nutritional advice is posing a problem for India, which is suffering from the dual burden of under nutrition and over nutrition among children and adults. International Confederation of Dietetic Associations says India has less than one dietician (0.3) per 100,000 population. In comparison, there were 25 dieticians per 100,000 population in Denmark and Israel, and 56 for a similar head count in Japan.

National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) comes out with a nutritional guideline for Indians, but very few know what it actually recommends. Experts say dieticians were never given much importance till a decade ago. But, now their presence is of paramount importance in both hospitals and standalone clinics.

Kavita Narayan, hospital and health systems expert from PHFI, who directed the study, said, "The Paramedical Council being planned by the ministry should be broken under heads like therapeutic, curative, rehabilitative and non-direct care rather than have separate Councils for the 140 plus categories of paramedical disciplines. A faulty diet is behind many of India's health problems."

Dr Subhash Salunke, former director general of health services of Maharashtra, said, "The major constraints are that the number of institutes which are training qualified dieticians are few. Besides, the perception that dieticians are needed is low. Thanks to lifestyle changes, their role in promotive healthcare is vital.

Source: The Times of India, September 13, 2012

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