Adopt Multidisciplinary Nutrition Care to Improve Healthcare Delivery, Pounds urges FG



L-R: Dr Leo Egbujiobi; Dr Teresa Isichei Pounds; Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi;Pharm.(Mrs) Clare Omatseye; and Dr Obi Adigwe; director general, NIPRD, at the conference.


Founder and President, West Africa Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (WASPEN) Dr Teresa Isichei Pounds, has charged the Federal Ministry of Health to initiate a multidisciplinary nutrition support team, saying this will help to revamp the country’s healthcare delivery system, that is currently ranked among the poorest in the world.

Pounds, who bemoaned the present condition of several patients in Nigerian hospitals, described them as underserved due to the absence of expert nutrition support groups.

She said such support groups, made up of physicians, nurses, pharmacists and dietitians, will critically assess patients’ nutrition status from the point of admission into the hospital, as a means of diagnosing the appropriate treatment for them.

Speaking with Pharmanews during the recent 2023 WASPEN Clinical Nutrition Conference, held in Lagos, the clinical pharmacist, who doubles as the President of National Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA) emphasised the need to stem the rate at which Nigerians die from treatable and manageable conditions.

She said “How many patients die in the hospital because of malnutrition daily? How many of our loved ones go into the hospital for surgical procedures, and the wounds not healing for a long time or the wound opens up?

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“So we are passionate about nutrition support for malnourished patients with non-functioning gastrointesrinal (GI) tract, who for one clinical problem or the other can’t absolve food, and they have to be fed intravenously.

“Again, when you are looking at healthcare costs, studies have shown that malnutrition jacks up healthcare cost, because patients with special nutrition needs stay longer in hospitals due to various complications, and wounds not healing up.

“So I’m hoping that the Federal Ministry of Health, under this new administration led by President Bola Tinubu, can critically look into this issue and address it immediately to put a stop gap to this unnecessary morbidity and mortality burden of the nation”.

Pounds further narrated how she and her team in the United States of America were able to successfully manage over 10 cases of pregnant women with hyperemesis gravidarum, which is extreme vomiting throughout pregnancy, with parenteral nutrition all through the period. She added that same has been done to nurture neonates and prenates with nutrition challenge to maturity.

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The WASPEN President has also tasked community pharmacists to incorporate nutrition screening into their pharmaceutical care routine, and once patients are diagnosed to be malnourished, they should be referred to the dietitian for nutrition assessment.

Advocating nutrition as a human rights, she mentioned the importance of the availability and affordability of parenteral products for malnourished patients in the right quantity.

“I’m also preaching that nutrition is a human right and I’m hoping that we can have these products in Nigeria for patients use. So the question is are there products available for this set of patients, in terms of affordability?

The President, West Africa Private Healthcare Federation (WAPHF) Pharm.(Mrs) Clare Omatseye in her keynote address, at the conference pointed out the essence of best nutrition for best healthcare, stating that adequate nutrition is key to having a healthy population.

Identifying malnutrition as a major limitation to achieving individual and national development, she said 48 million people are projected to be lacking access to good nutrition in 2023.

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Omatseye, who is also the founder and managing director of JNCI, highlighted causes of malnutrition to include poor food availability and production, recurrent infections, lack of nutritional education, lack of sanitation, erratic healthcare provision, chronic diarrhea, hook worm and malaria, chronic infection, among others.

On the way forward, she urged the Federal Government to include malnutrition as one of the conditions to be catered for under the National Health Insurance Act (NHIA), as well as establishing free access to healthcare for the vulnerables.

She also recommended the provision of special budget for malnutrition, investment in healthcare infrastructure, recruitment of more health workers, creation of more awareness on nutrition, mandatory nutrition screening by an interdisciplinary nutrition support team, among others.

Dignitaries at the conference include, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, as the chairman of the occasion; Dr Obi Peter Adigwe; director general, NIPRD; Dr Leo Egbujiobi, patron; Prof. Olukemi Odukoya; Prof. Azuka Oparah; Pharm. Vern Ohaya; Dr Adedapo Olumide Osinowo, and others.


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