Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, is assuring members of the Jamaica Association of Professionals in Nutrition and Dietetics (JAPINAD) that the Government is working to address several matters the group has raised.
“I am well acquainted with the issues of your association…and I can assure you that (they are) going to be dealt with,” the Minister said.
He was responding to concerns raised by JAPINAD’s President, Kirk Bolton, during the official opening of the association’s administrative offices at the Nuttall Memorial Hospital in St. Andrew, recently.
Among the issues is a call for the government’s acceptance of JAPINAD’s proposed amendments to the Professions Supplementary to Medicine (PSM) Act, governing the island’s nutritionists and dieticians.
While noting significant advances in the levels and availability of training of nutritionists and dieticians, Mr. Bolton contended that the law has not “kept pace” with developments in the profession. As such, academic progression has far exceeded the requirements set out by law.
“The PSM Act makes reference to a diploma level education to certain categories of our members. The training institutions in Jamaica have dispensed with the diploma for many years and, instead, now offer degrees. The reality is that even while these professionals are graduating with higher levels of qualification with the capability of filling higher level posts…they are still licensed in the category of a nutrition professional with a diploma,” he said.
Mr. Bolton also noted that the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine (CPSM), which licences nutritionists and dieticians, needs greater autonomy in the management of its affairs, similar to other health councils.
“This would reduce the number of issues…that are impeding our advancement and the necessary changes which need to take place,” he said.
Noting that “the best days for JAPINAD are ahead of you,” Dr. Ferguson advised that proposed amendments of the Act and recommendations regarding the council “are before us and we are working assiduously to ensure that it happens”.
In the meantime, Mr. Bolton informed that the new offices will house Jamaica’s first nutrition consultancy incubator.
“This is an interesting arrangement, which will allow for interval rental of office space by members. The members will be allowed the use of the office at specific times per week and they will be guided by a licenced preceptor,” he said.
A non-profit organisation launched in 2002, JAPINAD has a membership of over 100 professionals and para-professionals, who are largely employed to the Ministries of Health, and Education, tertiary institutions, and in the private sector.
The association’s mission is to encourage excellence in the practice of nutrition and dietetics by lobbying with government, the business sector and other institutions to ensure improvement of the nutritional status of citizens.