About the National Nutrition Centre
History of the Nutrition Centre
In 1967 Dr Frank Ramsay initiated the Nutrition Project, the purpose of which was to provide an on-going community oriented programme of continuity of care for moderate and severe cases of malnutrition and to improve the nutritional status of pre-school children in Barbados.
The Nutrition Project later became the Nutrition Intervention Programme and continued under the directorship of Dr Ramsay from the Department of Paediatrics at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital until 1971.
In 1972 Dr Ramsay, with Cabinet approval, was able to secure funding from a number of organisations, including Oxfam (UK), Jaycees, Research Corporation, Williams-Waterman Fund, Macy Foundation, Milbank Memorial Fund, Catholic Organisation for Overseas Development, Mr Eric Estoric, a London art dealer and Mr Darcy Scott, a Barbadian auctioneer, in order to establish the National Nutrition Centre and continue the work of the Nutrition Intervention Programme.
The National Nutrition Centre began operation in December 1972 and was staffed by the Director, Dr Frank Ramsay, and a Nutrition Officer, Assistant Nutrition Officer, six nurses (the Health Visiting Team) and supporting clerical and ancillary staff.
Nutrition Clinics for mothers and children were held at the Centre from Monday to Saturday. The nurses monitored the growth and development of the infants and children, gave immunizations and referred sick children to the doctor. Iron and multi-vitamin supplements and high-calorie milk were supplied if necessary and powdered milk and low-cost foods of high nutritional value were made available to mothers at subsidized prices.
The Nutrition Centre was also responsible for supervision of dietary services in the District Hospitals, the Psychiatric Hospital, the former Oistins and St. Andrew Maternity Hospitals and, indirectly, the Children's Homes.
As nutrition services continued to expand, additional posts were created for Community Nutrition Officers. The Community Nutrition Officers conducted nutrition education programmes at the Nutrition Centre and in the community. Eventually they also joined the health teams in the Polyclinics to provide nutrition counselling services in areas outside of maternal and child health, including management of the chronic non communicable diseases (NCD's): obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol and so on.
In the mid-1980's, with the success of the Centre's infant and child nutrition programme and the establishment of Polyclinics around the island, the child health and nutrition services were decentralised and re-established in the polyclinics. With that move there was a shift in focus at the Nutrition Centre towards the increasing problem of the NCD's and the need to construct and implement more comprehensive food and nutrition policies.
The MISSION of the Centre is to promote and maintain a standard of good nutrition in Barbados through education and research.
The National Nutrition Centre Today
The National Nutrition Centre, in collaboration with other departments of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Education, and a number of non-governmental organisations, is charged with the responsibility to help to ensure food security and optimal nutritional health for all the people of Barbados.
The chronic non communicable diseases (NCD's) continue to be a focus of the National Nutrition Centre programmes, and the Centre aims to increase its capacity to provide comprehensive and effective nutritional services in order to manage and prevent these key nutritional problems. With that in mind, the Community Nutrition Officers conduct nutrition education programmes in the Polyclinics and in the community. They provide nutrition counselling services for the management of the NCD's: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol, as well as in the areas of maternal and child health.
The National Nutrition has also developed Food Based Dietary Guidelines for Barbados, Guidelines for Nutritious and Healthy Foods in Schools, and a wide variety of nutrition information leaflets (many of which are available on this site).