By Savanna Henderson, Humanitas Global
Child health and nutrition is the linchpin to global development. Without good health and nutrition, children may grow and develop into less productive adults, constantly fighting infections and disease that keep them from prospering and contributing to the world around them. The SickKids Centre for Global Child Health, out of the Hospital for Sick Children, is driven by the need to support global improvements in newborn, child and adolescent health. As part of its mission, the Centre for Global Child Health conducts collaborative research on nutrition, growth and development, infection and immunity, and cancer and blood disorders; It uses education and training to build and strengthen capacity among health care professionals for newborn and child health issues; informs policy development with the most recent research based evidence and; advocates for improved health for children and their families.
Recently, the Centre developed an online course to increase the availability of training for health care professionals worldwide. The SickKids Public Health Nutrition Course (SPHNC) is a free online course that provides lessons on and strategies for addressing the most current public health nutrition topics, including gender and poverty inequity in nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions, and the role of nutrition and physical activity in addressing non-communicable diseases. The course, with an emphasis on maternal and child nutrition, is designed for professionals such as doctors, nurses, dietitians, and health managers, but content is useful to anyone with an interest in nutrition, public health, and sustainable development.
With input from leading public health and nutrition experts, the course is taught over seven modules utilizing video talks from professionals in the field, case studies, reading assignments, interactive assessments, and self-evaluations. Participants will have the opportunity to hear lectures from health and nutrition authorities such as Zulfiqar Bhutta, SickKids Centre for Global Child Health; Robert Black, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; Gene Bukhman, Harvard Medical School and; Saskia de Pee, World Food Programme.
The SPHNC includes seven modules, which are made up of two to seven individual sessions. For instance, the “Micronutrient Deficiencies and Their Global Burden” module is comprised of six sessions each dedicated to the ins and outs of a specific nutrient. After completing each session, a badge is provided. If the entire course is completed, including each and every session, a certificate of completion is provided. While the modules are designed to be completed in subsequent order, they can be taken in any order, at any time as there is no deadline for completion after starting the course.
The SPHNC is an opportunity for those already in the field, looking to refine their skills and knowledge, and for those who want to learn more about public health nutrition in a globalized world. Nutrition is integral to the Sustainable Development Goals, with 12 of the 17 goals containing nutrition related indicators. Sharing up-to-date nutrition evidence and knowledge, and the skills for implementing nutrition-related interventions or research will contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda.