Nutrition Innovation Lab Staff Honored

Sanele Nkomani

Sanele Nkomani, MS, RD is the recipient of 2020 Emerging Dietetic Leader Award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This award recognizes the competence and activities of dietitians, who have made contributions early in their dietetics careers.

The Academy is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Sanele’s achievement will be recognized in the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics publications and at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo™ (FNCE® 2020) International Reception in the fall. Her accomplishment will also be acknowledged in a future issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Academy’s flagship publication for information on the practice and science of food, nutrition and dietetics.

Sanele works as a Supervising Dietitian at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition at Tufts University. Below, she reflects on how her leadership skills and motivational drive helped her to bring nutrition training to her home country to educate the public about the consumption of a healthy and nutritious diet.

“I am a highly motivated and results-orientated registered dietitian with a master’s in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. My career has focused on developing clinical nutrition practice in developing countries. As the supervising dietitian of the first program to train dietitians in Malawi, I provide technical expertise and teach core dietetic courses; medical nutrition therapy and nutrition counseling and behavior change. I also lead in coordinating the implementation of clinical dietetics internships, which includes identifying appropriate rotations sites, preceptors, and direct supervision of students in rotations. I also play an advisory role to the government of Malawi on the recruitment and retention of dietitians in clinical services, development of clinical nutrition and foodservice national guidelines and protocols, and procurement of nutrition support.”

“In addition, I have supported the development of standards of education, credentialing requirements, scope of practice, and code of ethics for dietitians in Malawi and Zimbabwe, my home country. In a previous role, I led the development of clinical nutrition short courses for allied health continuous professional development in clinical nutrition, which was the first program of its kind in Zimbabwe.”

“Driven by a passion to improve the clinical dietetic practice in Africa through leadership, I was the vice president of the Dietetic Association of Zimbabwe from 2016-2018. I am also an alumnus of the African Nutrition Leadership Program (ANLP). More recently, I took up the Malawi country representative position of the International Affiliate of American Nutrition and Dietetics (IAAND).”

“The broader importance of my work is to build the foundation necessary for the growth of dietetics practice, where very little practice has existed in the past. I strongly believe that dietitians, provided with the right resources, are poised to make a significant contribution in improving health delivery and outcomes in low- income countries like Malawi, and would like to dedicate my career to achieving this ideal.”

Support for the work in Malawi  was provided by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Nutrition which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).