Symposium and Launch of Phase II of the Collaboration between the Department of Dietetics - University of Ghana, Centre of Excellence for Nutrition, North-West University and Nutricia Research Foundation

A two-day symposium under the theme: Advancing Nutrition Research Through Capacity Building, was jointly organized by Nutricia Research Foundation (NRF, Netherlands), Centre of Excellence for Nutrition (CEN, Northwest University, Potchefstroom Campus, South Africa) and University of Ghana (The host institution) on the 28th and 29th of September, 2017 at Oceanic Beach Resort and Yiri Lodge in Accra.

In separate welcome addresses, Rev. Prof Patrick Ayeh – Kumi, Provost of the College of Health Sciences, Prof. Solomon Ofori-Acquah, Dean, School of Biomedical and Allied Health Sciences and Dr. Matilda Asante, Head, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics all from the University of Ghana, expressed their gratitude towards the initiative and thanked all participants for taking time out of their busy schedules to contribute and participate in the symposium. They encouraged further collaborations in the area of nutrition research.

After the welcome address, Dr. Robin Dolman, a Senior Lecturer and Program leader of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at the North West University, took participants through the purpose of the symposium, namely the need to sustain the Nutrition Research program and to strengthen the collaboration among all stakeholders. Prof Marius Smuts, Research Director at Centre for Excellence in Nutrition (CEN), South Africa, officially opened the symposium. 

 

Background

The collaboration between the Nutricia Research Foundation (NRF), the Centre of Excellence for Nutrition and University of Ghana was first launched in Potchefstroom, South Africa (20 – 21st January, 2014).  The main aim of this collaboration was to establish and strengthen nutrition research capacity in Africa.  Dr. Robin Dolman stated that in the second phase of the collaboration, there will be two Nutrition Research hubs in Africa. The CEN will support and equip the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, UG to provide the same support to neighboring countries whilst CEN focuses on countries surrounding South Africa. The second phase of the collaboration which is scheduled to commence in 2018 at CEN and UG is expected to end in 2021.

Presentations

A number of experts in different fields of nutrition made presentations on the first day. Notable among them were; The Changing Role Of The Dietitian and Nutritionist in Africa by Prof Edelweiss Wentzel-Viljoen (CEN, South Africa), Nutrition situation in Ghana by Prof. Matilda Steiner-Asiedu (Dean, School of Biological Sciences, UG), Hospital malnutrition on the African continent by Prof Renee Blaauw (Stellenbosch University, South Africa) and Pediatric Malnutrition – SAMAC project by Miss Janet Carboo (MSc candidate, CEN) and Dr. Robin Dolman. Three PhD students from the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, UG gave a presentation on their experiences in North West and Stellenbosch University during the second year of their programme (experiential learning). This aspect of their experiential learning was partly sponsored by the Nutricia Research Foundation.

The Launch

Day two of the symposium took place at the Yiri Lodge in Legon. The day started with an African Nutrition Leadership Program (ANLP) session steered by Prof Johann Jerling. The day’s highlight was the official launch of the phase two collaboration.

Closing remarks

In his closing remarks, the Dean of the School of Biomedical and Allied Health sciences, Prof. Solomon Ofori-Acquah expressed his sincere appreciation to all the organizers and participants for a successful symposium. He stressed the importance of such collaboration in enhancing capacity building among stakeholders and also wished everybody well in their future endeavors.