The 32nd Nutrition Congress of the Austrian Association of Dietitians was held on March 19th – 20th2015 in Vienna, Austria. The Congress focused on health policy issues. It became clear that dietitians could make significant contributions to a healthy population. The experts agreed that a stronger integration of the dietetics profession in the health care system is needed to meet the challenges of the future.
In her opening statement Prof. Andrea Hofbauer, President of the Austrian Association of Dietitians reflected on achievements in the last ten years.
The revision of the law was carried into execution so that dietetics students can graduate with a bachelor degree and the title of “Diaetologe” was adopted as the new occupational title.
The Austrian Secretary of Health Dr. Sabine Oberhauser mentioned that nutrition is the greatest political challenge her administration encounters. To create a turnaround, everyone has to face up to this issue. The dietitians play an essential role. "The new ideas within the health care reform in Austria will make the responsibility of dietitians more visible," said Oberhauser.
A central component of health care reform in Austria is the new concept of primary care. According to Dr. Josef Probst, General Manager of the Austrian Social Insurance, "Dieticians must appear in the comprehensive model of primary care”. He said that the expertise of the professional group brings added value for the health care system. The dietetic diagnosis can support physicians. The patients benefit from science-based nutritional therapeutic treatment and counseling.
Prof. Anne de Looy, President of EFAD, illustrated in her state-of-the-art address the positive effects of evidenced based specific dietary treatment on various levels.
Patients or clients involved attain better health, better quality of life and display fewer sick-leave days. There is less strain on the health budget.
According to the WHO Region Europe, coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer and COPD are the causes for up to 77% of the illnesses, and for up to 88% the cause of early death. With this in mind the European Ministers of Health adopted in 2013 “The Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and Non-communicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020”. In this declaration unhealthy eating and lack of exercise are mentioned as risk factors for diseases. Counter measurements are being targeted.
In conclusion Ms. Hofbauer said, “Dietitians can, due to their specific and excellent qualifications, not only contribute to the health and well-being of the people, but also help to reduce health care costs. We are as a professional group also aware that the treatment of diseases requires an interdisciplinary approach. The demands are getting more and more diverse. We are ready to meet them."
Other subject areas discussed at the congress included quality management, evidence based dietetics, clinical challenges, interdisciplinary teamwork, nutrition trends, children`s nutrition and modern technology. Under the title “Science Talk” students presented their bachelor thesis. 450 to 500 participants attended the congress which was well received.
Prof. Andrea Hofbauer, MSc, MBA
President of the Austrian Association of Dietitians
Trudy Giesinger, Dietitian and Congress Delegate