Define the Role of Public Nutritionist in Health Care Delivery?
It is clearly evident from the foregoing discussion that nutrition is an important, though not the only, determinant of health of an individual. The root cause of many health problems of the community can be traced to faulty nutrition. It could be a lack, excess or an imbalance of certain nutrients in the diet, which compromises the nutritional status leading to health problems. Hence, nutrition can be viewed as a subset of the set, health. Since, attainment of health for all is a universal goal of all nations and communities, public nutrition has to be an integral part of any strategy designed to achieve this goal. As signatory to the Alma Ata declaration, primary health care becomes the major approach to achieve an acceptable level of health for maximum number of people in the community. It has already been stated that the promotion of food supply and proper nutrition is one of the eight basic essential services included in the primary health care.
Thus, we can conclude that public nutrition is an essential component of health and health care. The continuing changes in the health scenario of nations across the world present varied and newer challenges to the public nutrition professional who is intimately involved with providing nutrition support in all health care activities. The shift in accent on health promotion from the earlier one primarily on prevention and cure has added more responsibilities to all those engaged in health care of the community. Today, much of the ill health is related to lifestyle and environmental factors whereas a lot of the illness could be attributed to the causation of germs when the first movement for public health began. Though the latter has been contained in the developed and less successfully in the developing nations, the former situation continues to be of concern in the public health arena. The public nutritionist equipped with the knowledge of food, nutrition and health is eminently suited to participate in all the strategies of health promotion required to combat this situation. In the Indian context, where under nutrition is extensively present in the preschool children and pregnant and nursing mothers on the one hand and the threat from lifestyle related health diseases like obesity and degenerative heart diseases show alarming trends on the other, the role of public nutritionist assumes tremendous importance along with responsibility.