• National Association Reports
    Recent developments of the Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute
    Vol. 16 Issue 2
    Country: Ireland
    The Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute (INDI) is the national organisation for clinical nutritionists/dietitians in Ireland. The INDI's mission is to encourage, foster and maintain the highest possible standards in the science and practice of human nutrition and dietetics, to positively influence the nutrition status and health of the individual and the population in general. This incorporates clinical nutrition, community nutrition, business and industry, research, education and private practice. The INDI through its varied workload further the cause of dietitians both on a national and international basis. Below are summaries of recent developments:

    Oral Nutrition Supplements (ONS) – due to the current economic downturn all aspects of budgets within the health service are being reviewed. The efficacy of ONS came under scrutiny. The INDI brought an Irish and international evidence based case for ONS (both from economic as well as patient health perspectives) to the attention of the relevant authorities. The INDI are lobbying hard for the continued ONS under dietetic supervision in hospitals and the community setting.

    Ability to prescribe ONS – at present dietitians in Ireland do not have the authority to write and sign prescriptions for ONS – this is despite being the expert. In all cases a medics signature is required in order for the prescription to be acknowledged and filled. 

    State registration – until recent years the issue of the lack of state registration for dietitians had not been addressed and was of great concern to the INDI. Not having the title of dietitian protected, meant it was open to potential abuse. The INDI in addition to other health care professional representative groups e.g. The Irish Society for Chartered Physiotherapists lobbied to bring about the required protection for the relevant professions. Success was finally attained in 2008. Currently the required legislation is going through the Irish political system and the INDI look forward to it coming into law in the next few months. Continuing Professional Development will become an integral part of all clinical nutritionists/dietitians daily practice with the imminent arrival of statutory registration. Clinical and non-clinical meetings are held as part of this developing area on a variety of specialist topics. Guest speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds, as well as own members present at these meetings.

    Obesity and Advocacy - 
    In 2008 INDI Council identified obesity as one of the areas where they would concentrate in relation to advocacy for the coming year. 
    1. In December Minister Mary Wallace (Junior Minister for Health Promotion) set up the Inter Sect oral Group on Obesity whose task was to re-examine the progress to date on the Obesity Taskforce report (2005) and to prioritise areas for action. The group was made up of several government departments such as Education, Health, Environment, and Transport as well as agencies such as Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), Safefood, Irish Sports Council, and representations from academia and industry. INDI were the only professional body represented on this group. The group met, reviewed and reported on the existing Obesity Taskforce report. Recommendations were made to government on future proprieties for obesity prevention. The INDI were also represented on the Communications and the Obesity Treatment sub groups. The Intersect oral group presented its interim report to government on 17th April and can be found athttp://www.dohc.ie/publications/report_ntfo.html 

    In October 2008 Safefood (a North/South Body) hosted the first meeting of the All Ireland Obesity Action Forum. INDI were invited to sit on this group. The group was made up of members from Northern Ireland along with various stakeholders from the Republic like the FSAI, Institute Public Health, Industry representatives, Irish Heart Foundation and Department of Health and Children. There were many similarities between the jurisdictions so sharing of experiences and knowledge will be beneficial. 

    Finally the INDI now are also represented on the National Health Promotion Obesity Public Awareness Campaign - Little Steps. INDI support this initiative and were invited to put forward ideas and comments on the forthcoming resources for this three year campaign of which we are in year 2.

    The INDI are represented on all government and national groups who are examining Obesity. They are represented at the cold face and can use their experience and knowledge to influence policy. This is very important for long term relationship building within these groups and will be of benefit in further areas.