NMU’s Champions of Health Education

By: Andisile Klaas

Port Elizabeth- Nutrition is the food we take in and how that food is used by the body for its optimal performance. It is therefore important that people have the correct information regarding nutrition, which is the sentiment shared by the students and staff of Nelson Mandela University’s Dietetics Department who champion for health education inside and outside the university.

Students from the Dietetics Department work in practical fields outside classroom theory as early as 1st year and the work is mostly with community clinics, schools, creches and even nutrition and health talks within the university. The work done in the community prioritizes mostly mothers and children as it is a firm belief that it is never too early to learn. Some of the responsibilities include weighing babies, food talks, money saving food alternatives and gardening tips to name a few.

The other objective behind the talks is to address not only nutrition and malnutrition but also the over-nutrition that stems from myths that gaining weight and having a fuller body equates to being healthy.

When asked about the huge problem of illiteracy within South African communities and the possibility of these messages getting lost in translation, the department’s Professor Annelie Gresse profoundly stated that, South African communities are occupied by people who have a lot of knowledge so it is therefore important that health scholars and professionals do not underestimate them. She also stated that the best way to effectively impact communities is by creating an open dialogue and a two-way communication through these talks rather than giving out pamphlets or standing in front of people and telling them what to do without fully conversing and finding out what they know.

The department also encourages people outside the department to get involved in bettering our communities, one can donate something as little as a bag of dry beans or gardening seeds to organisations and volunteer for food drives. The talks that students host here at the university are not limited to anyone, as everyone who is interested can attend.

The following talk will be hosted Tuesday, September 4th at the Department of Dietetics (High Performance Complex in Protea Road) (Venue 126, 0018) at 13:00-13:45 and one can RSVP to Justine at 073 788 2155 or Ashleigh at 083 891 5721. Goodie bags, coffee and tea will be available for all participants

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