In response to the country’s urgent need to reduce chronic malnutrition, THET is working with the University of Zambia to start the country’s first training programme for nutritionists.

First BSc in Human Nutrition

“The expertise of lecturers speaks volumes. They have shared with us their knowledge and experiences, which are very practical and will help us solve many of the nutrition problems in Zambia.”
Martin Mzumara, 4th Year BSC student

In 2013, the Government of Zambia (GoZ) launched the “National Food and Nutrition Strategy” and the “First 1000 Most Critical Days Programme.” which aims to significantly reduce chronic malnutrition in young children and increase investment in nutrition and nutrition-sensitive interventions. The GoZ acknowledges that achievement of their objectives is constrained by the shortfall of adequately qualified nutritionists and dieticians in Zambia.

THET's Role

In response to the country’s urgent need for qualified nutritionists and dieticians, in 2011, THET Zambia began supporting the University of Zambia (UNZA) to develop and run a BSc Human Nutrition. Prior to 2011, there was only one diploma-level training course in nutrition available in the country. The BSc is a six-year course that trains students to be a fully qualified nutritionist or dietician, depending on sub-specialisation.

THET Zambia’s support of UNZA’s BSc falls into two phases:

  • Phase 1 (November 2011- July 2014): Development of the BSc in Human Nutrition curriculum and the first intake of students onto the course in July 2011
  • Phase 2 (August 2014- July 2016): Introduction of MSc in Human Nutrition at UNZA and to ensure the sustainability of the two nutrition programmes after 2016

Phase 1 – Key Achievements

DFID provided three years of core funding to THET Zambia to coordinate local and international experts in curriculum development and delivery, as well as to procure a range of essential physical resources. Some key achievements of Phase 1 include:

  • Enrolling four intakes of students, with 59 students currently enrolled
  • Securing nutritionists from both within Zambia and internationally to teach and coordinate the BSc course
  • Establishing a fully-equipped and networked computer room to accommodate 20 students
  • Upgrading laboratory facilities and classrooms with equipment to perform food analyses and to assess nutritional status
  • Procuring essential textbooks and developing a small resource centre for students
  • Facilitating three workshops with Zambian and international nutrition experts to complete an analysis of needs and capacity for the MSc curriculum; to review and revise the BSc curriculum; and to develop the MSc curriculum
  • Establishing a ‘Nutrition Capacity Building Working Group’ that brings together key stakeholders including Natural Resources Development College, the National Food and Nutrition Commission, the University of Zambia and the essential Ministries

Phase 2 – Continued Focus

Building on the achievements of Phase 1, the goal of the Phase 2 is to continue working towards meeting Zambia’s need for highly qualified nutritionists and dieticians. UNZA will continue to offer the BSc course, and additionally, this Phase 2 will focus on the development and implementation of the MSc Nutrition course. By 2016, the goals of Phase 2 include:

  • Maintaining an enrolment of at 50 nutritionists and dieticians in the training curriculum
  • Graduating more than 25 students from the programme with the required academic qualifications
  • Posting nine UNZA-funded lecturers 
  • Ensuring the sustainability of the Nutrition Programme within the UNZA Department of Food Science and Nutrition