Three-year review of a capacity building pilot for a sustainable regional network on food, nutrition and health systems education in India

Luke Buckner, Harrison Carter, Anand Ahankari, Rinku Banerjee, Somnath Bhar, Shivani Bhat, Yagnaseni Bhattacharya, Debashis Chakraborty, Pauline Douglas, Laura Fitzpatrick, Sudeshna Maitra-Nag, Sagarika Muhkerjee, Sabyasachi Ray, Ananya Roy, Aparjita Saha, Marietta Sayegh, Minha Rajput-Ray, Ianthi Tsimpli, Sumantra Ray

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Background In Kolkata (India), there are high rates of malnourished children (45.9%) under the age of three, impacting growth, organ development, function, and cognition. Mothers have a major role to play during this crucial development stage, with research showing nutrition knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of mothers are important determinants of childhood malnutrition. Aims To document 3 years of capacity building towards a sustainable nutrition education network in Kolkata, India, while assessing the ability to perform data collection in the form of needs assessments, impact assessments and capacity reviews. Methods Descriptive review and analysis of engagement and impact from 3 years of work by the NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition and Health, initiating locally led nutrition education interventions. Mapping to the Indian National Nutrition Strategy was also performed to review adherence to nationwide priorities surrounding nutrition and determine the wider application potential of the network. Results Two simultaneous projects were taken forward by a team of local healthcare professionals and student champions. Project 1-medical college workshops for medical student nutrition education with added focus on underserved populations, Project 2-preparation for a â € Mobile Teaching Kitchen' (MTK) in marginalised communities to empower local women as nutrition educators. Data collection methods used for analysing markers of impact and sustainability were semi-structured interviews of the community members, and KAP questionnaires to assess response to educational sessions. Conclusion With local support it is possible to create and sustain fieldwork for an extended period with meaningful outputs and impact. This initiative demonstrates that it is possible to use healthcare professionals, students and volunteers with low-intensity training and a low-cost approach to produce action research with considerable impact and results in rapid, reliable and robust manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-68
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health
Issue number1
Early online date1 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The 1-hour workshop ‘Teaching Kitchens: Next Steps in Policy and Sustainability’ was held on 25th October 2017 in Kolkata, India, organised by NNEdPro, the University of Cambridge and the RCSG, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Funding Information:
Following 3 years of intervention, initiated by NNEdPro and sustained by the ongoing financial support of research grants, a local nutrition and public health educational system was established in Kolkata, India. This paper documents the path undertaken to create a sustained network that continues to thrive, by the definitions of sustainability (i) after a defined period of time, (ii) continues to be delivered, (iii) individual behaviour change is continued, (iv) adaptation continues to occur to the network while providing benefit to the individual.13 Comparison to the definitions set out by the WHO, suggest the network is still in its stage of growth in a life cycle, as well as being in the synthesising stage where blending of participants in order to work towards the common network goal occurs.14

Funding Information:
The project ‘The impact of an educational intervention in West Bengal, India’ was an 8-month project (15th April 2017 to 14th December 2017, later extended to 28th February 2018) sponsored by the ESRC Impact Acceleration Fund. A key feature of the project was the co-organisation of a workshop with NNEdPro to set the foundations, as well as plan the next steps for the parallel ‘Teaching Kitchens’ project. A wide range of stakeholders in India participated, including health, academia, NGOs, civil society, local government and other key influencers in the fields of education and nutrition. The MTK unit was further funded by the British Medical Association charities grant, Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition partnership seed funding and an ESRC grant following this.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 BMJ Publishing Group. All rights reserved.


  • dietary patterns
  • nutrient deficiencies
  • malnutrition


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