Topical Area: Policy, Global Nutrition
Tanzania launched a National Multisectoral Nutrition (MSN) Action Plan and hired Nutrition Officers in all districts and regions. Implementation of multisectoral policies is essential for improving nutrition, yet challenging, particularly for new cadres. We explored mentoring as a novel, low-cost approach to strengthen capacity and engagement in MSN activities in five regions.
Regional Nutrition Officers participated in a mentoring workshop, then mentored District Nutrition Officers to form MSN action teams of 2-3 officers from other sectors. Support calls and funding for basic expenses were provided. In-depth interviews with 31 regional and district personnel explored challenges and promising practices over 1 year. Qualitative data were analyzed thematically.
Regional Officers’ availability and capability varied. Overall, mentoring increased awareness of nutrition as cross-cutting and built collaboration. Nutrition officers were responsible for coordinating MSN, but clinical responsibilities and lack of authority had hindered integration of nutrition across sectors. Other barriers were limited time, resources and conflicting supervisory expectations. Most Nutrition Officers organized action teams across health, agriculture, community development and education departments. Benefits varied by district and sector. For example, learning about national policies and illustrative school- or community-based activities helped officers outside the health sector see the relevance of MSN and encouraged engagement. Agricultural officers already conducting nutrition-sensitive activities welcomed opportunities to share experiences and avoid redundancy. Recommendations to further strengthen MSN mentoring included enhancing collaboration at regional level, involving district personnel in initial workshops and selection of mentors, and sensitizing department heads.
Implementation of MSN policies requires explicit capacity building. Technical training is insufficient without mobilization across sectors, appropriate workloads, and supervisors who prioritize MSN activities. Mentoring can enhance credibility and capacity of nutrition personnel expected to engage departments outside health in implementing MSN policies.
Funding Sources :
UKAID - Department of International Development
Associate Research professor
Gina Chapleau Klemm
IMA World Health/Tanzania
IMA World Health/Tanzania
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre