Written by Sarah Armes, Ela Augustyniak and Celine Tabche
Our Fifteen-Year Impact Report is now out! Check it out now.
Building on our experience and expertise, we are now open to providing advisory and consulting services. Check out our Consultancy booklet.
On the 12th of September 2023, NNEdPro, in collaboration with partners from the University of Queensland (UQ), WHO Collaborating Centre for Public Health Education and Training (WHOCC) Imperial College London, and DuYuCare, marked the launch of its 15th-year impact report. The event served as a platform to discuss NNEdPro's future strategy, explore innovative collaborations, and address key issues in the field of nutrition and health.
The discussion began with Professor Lauren Ball, Dr Breanna Lepre, and Clare Van Dorssen, representing the University of Queensland, sharing insights into their newly established Centre for Community Health and Well-being. This collaborative model, master-planned Springfield, Queensland, emphasises education, health, and technology as its core pillars. The role of the Centre for Community Health and Well-being is to engage directly with the community, understand their health and well-being priorities, and generate research questions that address these concerns. As a result, the Centre places a strong focus on creating research questions that have a direct and beneficial impact on the community. In these discussions, it became evident that while healthy eating is essential, it may not always be a top priority for the general population. Instead, areas like mental health, social and emotional well-being, and financial well-being often take precedence. However, it was recognised that numerous connections exist between these priorities and healthy eating habits.
Celine Tabche, from the WHOCC, emphasised the importance of understanding health as a combination of physical, mental, and social well-being rather than merely the absence of disease. The conversation underlined the role of nutrition in various aspects of health and well-being, particularly in disease prevention. Professor Ball highlighted the "wheel of well-being," a framework that addresses seven components of health and well-being, including emotional, intellectual, physical, social, environmental, financial, and spiritual well-being. Nutrition was viewed as a component within this broader context.
Professor Sumantra (Shumone) Ray highlights that one of NNEdPro’s experiences when developing a theory of change for a specific population is that the primary focus is usually on addressing social or economic issues, as these align with people's priorities. Interestingly, this focus often leads to an incidental improvement in nutrition and health outcomes. This approach is significant because social and economic factors exert considerable political and economic influence, particularly in the realms of food production, systems, and the environment. By strategically addressing these systemic forces and aligning with people's top priorities, the potential for positive nutrition and health outcomes can emerge as a valuable side effect. However, the challenge lies in the fact that nutrition is often overlooked or underestimated in this process, even though it remains a crucial aspect of overall well-being.
The discussion also centred on the pressing need to reduce the burden, pressures, and costs on healthcare systems. The WHOCC has been actively involved in this effort, conducting healthcare system evaluations in diverse regions, with a recent focus on Dubai. Notably, the WHOCC places a strong emphasis on prevention strategies, which encompass various aspects of nutrition and lifestyle. This preventive approach is consistently integrated into all their training programs, highlighting the importance of proactive healthcare strategies. Dr Lepre highlighted the central idea of empowering frontline healthcare professionals who directly engage with patients. The focus is on prevention to ease the burden on secondary and tertiary healthcare systems. It is essential to recognise the pivotal role of nutrition in health promotion and protection efforts.
The forward visions looked at new initiatives and proposals:
women’s leadership in nutrition education beyond the realm of professions
diet sustainability and voices of the youth
reaching out to lay audience beyond nutrition professionals to hear their voices, concerns, and needs and to create and deliver messages accordingly adapted to the community, as well as engaging real lived experiences as a motivational tool
This discussion prompted the group to recognise that almost every form of health promotion or specific protection would have a nutritional component. However, the implementation of these strategies can vary significantly between regions and contexts. For example, the public health workforce in Australia is minimal compared to other countries such as the UK, which impacts how primary care is delivered. These regional variations underscored the need for more tailored strategies and adaptable approaches to health promotion.
An important element in disease prevention is empowering individuals with knowledge, as pointed out by Marie-Theres Peinert and Raphael Reuben from DuYuCare. Effective communication of this knowledge is critical and must consider factors like readability, accessibility, and ease of understanding. An innovative approach suggested involves co-creation, where individuals with first-hand experience of a specific disease collaborate with researchers and healthcare professionals to develop materials that help individuals understand their symptoms. This approach not only expedites diagnosis but also reduces the need for extensive involvement in the healthcare system. This discussion raised questions about NNEdPro's regional networks and the role of the general public within these networks. The group acknowledged that while there are over 700 international collaborators, very few are from the general public. This realisation sparked a conversation about ways to involve the public more actively in NNEdPro's initiatives.
The discussion concluded with a focus on thematic approaches to harnessing regional networks and incorporating these insights into NNEdPro's forward strategy. Elevating and recognising lived experiences within these networks was seen as a way to identify common threads. Co-creation with individuals and communities emerged as a recurring theme. NNEdPro aims to explore new methods of knowledge translation and practice through collaboration with key partners and individuals with lived experiences.
Several action points were identified during the discussion:
Development of a New Training Course: Collaboratively creating a new training course on 'lived experience and preventative solutions.' This course will involve key partners and individuals with lived experiences and focus on primary and secondary prevention, considering the variability in public health workforces across different regions.
Systematic Structural Mapping: A systematic mapping of countries and regions to strengthen collaboration across NNEdPro's regional networks and WHOCC partners. This will involve WHOCC colleagues having representation across all regional networks and attending annual meetings.
NNEdPro, in collaboration with WHOCC, UQ, and organisations such as DuYuCare and Nutritank, is committed to rethinking how knowledge is translated into practice. By fostering collaboration, elevating lived experiences, and addressing community needs, NNEdPro aims to continue making a meaningful impact in the field of nutrition and health.
As we reflect on the past 15 years, the lessons learned will guide our efforts to serve the global population better, ensuring a healthier and more informed future.