The Health Ministry has disclosed a shortage of dieticians, reporting only 109 professionals available to address the growing population facing Non-Communicable Diseases.
According to Minister Dr. Atonio Lalabalavu, a New Zealand report has highlighted the pressing need for 161 dieticians in Fiji especially to manage the increasing cases of diabetes.
This aligns with the recommended ratio of one dietician for every 300 to 400 diabetics.
The Minister emphasizes the need for over 1,000 dieticians to combat non-communicable diseases.
“482 dietitians to manage and counsel people living with high blood pressure only, and probably 1131 dietitians to manage and counsel people who are overweight and obese.”
Dr Lalabalavu also points out the changing role of dieticians in healthcare.
“Their role has evolved, and so, not only in keeping with patient recovery and keeping patients well, their role is to counsel on dietary modification, develop dietary plans for, and provide dietary advice for a healthy lifestyle in order to promote health and prevent diseases.”
To address the shortfall, the Health Ministry is conducting a comprehensive review of the current dietician establishment.
The aim is to identify gaps and develop plans for additional positions to strengthen the healthcare system.