Current issues concerning gastro-intestinal health were the focus of the Annual Conference of the Austrian Association of Dietitians, from March 27th to 28th, 2014 in Vienna. At the same time the proposed Health Care Reform in Austria and the role of the dietitian in the health system were discussed. The conference was well attended with guests from the medical field and politics.
With approximately 600 participants, the Annual Conference of the Austrian Association of Dietitians remains to be the largest regularly scheduled scientific event on nutrition. "Never before has there been such great interest," the Associations’ President Prof. Andrea Hofbauer rejoiced in terms of the number of participants and the diversity of topics of the lectures.
In his opening speech, the Austrian Minister of Health Mr. Alois Stoeger stressed the importance of the role of dietitians and nutritionists in the health care system and noted, "It is my wish to improve the nutritional status of the population in Austria. Whenever diseases related to nutrition habits occur, it must be ensured that the competence of the dietitian’s’ expertise can be brought into action. It is the job of politicians to create the appropriate conditions.” Mr. Stoeger mentioned about the increasing lack of clarity in relation to food intolerances in consumers; this was also a conference topic. This is an example of where the expertise of dietitians and nutritionists could help to bring more objectivity into the discussion and to take away the people's uncertainty.
In the Health Care Reform Law adopted in 2013 it was determined that in-patient care should be relieved and the out-patient clinics should be expanded, a cost reduction in health care should thus be achieved. A crucial point here is the creation of new outpatient treatment forms. "Here, the dietitian can make a significant contribution", said Professor Hofbauer, "The effectiveness of the increased use of nutritionists and dietitians refers not only to the best possible patient care and efficient implementation of proven effective preventive measures but also to the reduction of health care costs as required by law. The economic benefits to society, resulting from the elimination of expensive medical therapies are supported by study results. In countries such as the Netherlands, England and Portugal, dietitians and other health care professionals are part of the medical service teams in primary health-care facilities. Dietitians are an integral part of the multidisciplinary team and undertake a variety of tasks such as nutrition education in schools and kindergarten, training diabetes patients, obesity management as well as advising sick or elderly prevention of malnutrition.”
“Best Point of Service” in cooperation with other Health Care Professionals.
All Health Care Professional Groups in Austria (“MTD-Austria”; representing 25,000 Members) support the demand of the federal government for a “Best Point of Service”. "The right performance must occur at the right time and the right place", said Professor Hofbauer. This means that the clients or patients find the lowest-threshold access possible to professional support. "Here at the Conference for Dietitians it is clearly shown in which direction the Health Care Professions in Austria will develop," noted Ms. Gabriele Jaksch, President of the Federation of Health Care Professions in Austria, "It is about a more intense professional training, Life Long Learning, as well as identifying and demonstrating the supporting role Health Care Professionals have in the Health Care System. It is clear that these professionals need to be more involved in the new Health Care System as is currently the case"
Trudy Giesinger, Dietitian
Delegate of the Austrian Association of Dietitians
Prof. Andrea Hofbauer, MSc., MBA
President of the Austrian Association of Dietitians