Today, being the 2nd Wednesday in March 2023, is the registered Dietitian–Nutritionist day. The day is earmarked to celebrate all the Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists and Registered Dietetic–Nutrition Technicians as indispensable members of the health team. It is equally meant to showcase the important roles of Dietitian–Nutritionists and Dietetic Technicians in health care delivery. I therefore congratulate all the Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists and the Dietetic Nutrition Technicians in Nigeria on the anniversary of this day. I salute you all and I acknowledge the laudable roles you perform as members of the health care delivery.

The Institute for Dietetics in Nigeria (IDN), being the foremost national professional body of Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists and Registered Dietetic Nutrition Technicians in Nigeria, adopted the idea of National Registered Dietitian–Nutritionist Day celebration in 2021 from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that pioneered the celebration in 2008. Essentially, this year’s celebration is the 3rd of its kind in Nigeria by members of the Institute.

Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists are health professionals who study food, nutrition and dietetics and use their knowledge to provide relevant information, identify and solve nutritional problems in people. The Registered Dietetic–Nutrition Technicians on the other hand are health experts that work hand–in hand with Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists to develop nutritional plans to promote health, treat illness or prevent disease. Both the Registered Dietitian–Nutritionist (RDN) and the Registered Dietetic–Nutritionist Technicians (RDNT) work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, institutions, community health agencies, long term care facilities, schools, daycare centres, weight management clinics, government agencies, prisons, schools, commercial kitchen, food companies, health clubs, restaurants and private outfits.

As a day earmarked to advance the nutritional status of the people, today is equally devoted to creating awareness among the populace (both young and old) about the importance and requirement of health and nutritious food in our day to day life.

I therefore charge all Registered Dietitian–Nutritionist to live up to expectation by educating the populace about what to eat, how to eat, the amount to eat even when to eat so as to guarantee optimum health. I particularly look forward to seeing Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists and Registered Dietetic Nutrition Technicians counselling laymen about how to cook nutritious food, avoid junk and fast foods, avoid adulterated foods and how to eat towards a healthy status.

This year’s celebration of Registered Dietitian–Nutritionist day is quite unique. The uniqueness lies in the fact that it coincides with the international women’s day which is devoted to the celebration of women globally. As professionals with more women practitioners, all Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists should see this year’s celebration as an opportunity to celebrate our women folk and promote their nutritional status and wellbeing as much as possible. In this way, I charge the Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists and Registered Dietetic–Nutrition Technicians to provide importance to girls and pregnant women, which empowered them to take nutritious and healthy food so that their baby would not suffer from different diseases and can have good resistance.

As a professional body of Registered Dietitian–Nutritionist, we salute the various food security policies being embarked upon by the federal government and various state governments as one of the plausible means of tackling nutrition crisis in Nigeria. However, we are of the strong opinion that there is need for more involvement of Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists and Registered Dietetic–Nutrition Technicians by the authourities to drive the policies to fruition. As a matter of fact, there is no way the food utilization segment of food security could be attained or achievable without input of Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists and Registered Dietetic–Nutrition Technicians as the major drivers.

We therefore call on all tiers of government to employ at least one Registered Dietitian–Nutritionist to cater for one thousand individuals. By this ratio, all health care delivery facilities, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions are expected to have Registered Dietitians in their employment. Government should consider the employment of Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists in all correctional facilities and boarding schools as well.

We laud the recent efforts of the World Bank at providing about $12bn as relief package to help African countries, including Nigeria, cope with food insecurity. We call on the federal government to seek for collaboration of professional bodies like the Institute for Dietetics in Nigeria (IDN) in the appropriate deployment of the funds towards the tackling of food shortage. In this way, adequate priority will be given to the provision of essential foods that will boost the health of the citizenry.

The need to put in place an enabling statute for the regulation of the practice of Nutrition and Dietetics is long overdue. Nutrition and Dietetics as a profession is very key and important to medical practice just like it is equally vulnerable to the invasion of quacks. The only way to checkmate the balkanization of the profession is to regulate its practice by law. We hereby call on the Federal Ministry of Health, the Hon. Federal Attorney General and the National Assembly to expedite actions on the passage of the bill to regulate the profession.

I heartily congratulate all the Registered Dietitian–Nutritionists and Registered Dietetic–Nutrition Technicians on the anniversary of this day and I wish you all more blissful celebrations.

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