We are pleased to have the opportunity to speak with Annemieke van Ginkel-Res, Honorary President of EFAD, the European Federation of the Associations of Dietitians.
Annemieke, thank you for taking the time. Tell us about what’s happening in 2020:
2020 represents the culmination of a major EFAD initiative, the European Dietetic Action Plan (EuDAP). This plan is aligned with the objectives of the WHO Food & Nutriton Action Plan.
The stated goals of EuDAP are to
- Ensure that healthy food and nutrition is accessible, affordable, attractive and sustainable.
- Promote the gains of a healthy diet and nutritional support throughout the life course, especially for the most vulnerable groups in clinical settings and the community.
- Use dietitians as educators and experts in community and clinical settings to advise the general population, other health professions, authorities (for example ministries, health insurance companies), mass media and industry.
- Invest in establishing the effectiveness of dietitians in the delivery of better health through improved nutrition.
- Strengthen governance, alliances and networks for a health-in-all-policies approach.
Has this ambitious initiative been successful to date?
Definitely. The European Dietitians Action Plan (http://www.efad.org/en-us/eudap) recorded over 170 actions that dietitians were undertaking in 2018 to contribute to better nutrition across Europe. Actions were being taken in all of the five areas mentioned above. But we know there are many more initiatives out there and plan to map them in this year’s survey. It is impressive to note that dietitians in Europe are taking an important role in combating NCDs.
I am sure you are excited about publication of the new EFAD White Paper Sustainable Health Through the Lifespan Can you share report highlights?
The White Paper highlights six areas where dietitians contribute to sustainable health:
- Treatment by dietitians is a cost-effective and cost-saving investment. For every €1 spent on dietetic counselling society gets a net €14 to €63 return
- Food is an integral part of healthcare – Dietitians call on political leaders to mandate coverage of dietitians services
- Focusing on nutrition improves health outcomes overall
- Sustainable diets lead to healthier populations and reduce impact on the planet
- Empowerment is key to healthier diets – dietitians are experts in behaviour change techniques to empower individuals and groups
- NCDs account for 41 million deaths each year, yet there are only 35.000 EFAD dietitians in Europe. Other health professionals must join these efforts
The white paper shows the impact of nutrition and dietetic advice on positive health outcomes.
What has the response been so far?
The White Paper has been well received by all our member National Dietetic Associations and welcomed by WHO Europe, ONCA, EASO, ESPEN and other organisations with whom EFAD collaborates.
In September 2019 EFAD represented the dietetic workforce at the 69th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in Copenhagen. A statement was presented: Dietitians call on political leaders across Europe to allocate resources to mandate coverage of dietitian service within each country’s existing health care system. Investing in nutrition is a smart investment for Europe!
In 2020 more actions are planned to show how dietitians can contribute to a healthier society. We are therefore very excited with the successful collaboration with EASO and the pre-conference workshop we are organising on Saturday 16 May at ECOICO2020 with speakers from the Nutrition Working Group (NWG), a joint venture between EASO and EFAD, the EFAD European Specialist Dietetic Network for Obesity and the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute.
How can all EFAD Associated dietitians contribute to the success of objectives outlined in the White Paper?
Dietitians contribute daily through their work in clinical practice, public health, food service and education, as evidenced by the EuDAP results.
Crucially, dietitians are part of multidisciplinary teams, in this way we work together with other health professionals (HCPs) in an effort to support a healthier population and a better quality of life for patients.
We look forward to seeing you in Dublin at ECOICO2020!
EFAD is looking forward to it too, and will cover the following themes at the Saturday 16 May preconference:
- The Registered Dietitian as a Central Care Provider for Obesity Management: Ellen Govers
- Competencies and practice tools required for Dietitians in Europe: Maria Hassapidou