Université d’Abomey-Calavi (ACU),  is the largest campus of the National University of Benin, with six faculties, including the Faculty of Health Sciences. The School of Nutrition in the Faculty, in partnership with the University of Montreal, has launched a 3-year program to produce licensed nutritionists. AWB, working with the University of Montreal, sent two volunteers, Thomas Mercier and Amélie Roy-Fleming, both clinical nutritionists from Quebec, to ACU for a period of 12 weeks in 2011: Mercier from April 5- May 27 and Roy-Fleming from May 1 – June 27.

“The first graduates with professional licenses in nutrition and dietetics from Abomey-Calavi University will be extremely useful in a variety of work situations in Benin.” -Amelie Roy-Fleming

The focus of their work was to prepare the materials needed by the students and the doctors supervising them during the in-service training component of their program. These are intended to address a current issue in contemporary Africa, the “double burden” of malnutrition caused by scarcity as well as health problems such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity which are related to recent changes in lifestyles.

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They also prepared educational materials for patients, using simple diagrams to accommodate the large percentage of the population that is illiterate.

In addition, with prior authorization from the professional association for dietitians in Quebec (QPDQ), they adapted relevant sections of its Handbook of Clinical Nutrition for use as reference material.

The volunteers met each week with the two doctors in charge of the internships in clinical nutrition to review progress and to make necessary adjustments. The tools developed in partnership with the two doctors will help in the establishment of the Clinical Nutrition Department in the University hospital. Roy-Fleming also participated in the assessment of potential internship sites for the students in the program.

AWB volunteers

Amélie Roy-Fleming, Dietitian (R. Dt.), is a certified diabetes educator (CDE) at the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay in Wemindji, Québec.

Thomas Mercier, B.Sc. in Nutrition (Laval University), B.Ed in Education Science (University of Quebec at Trois Rivières) is a dietitian at the Centre for Health and Social Services in Trois Rivières and teaches nutrition at the CEGEP (college) of Trois Rivières.