I recently had the pleasure of attending the 20th Malaysian Dietitians Association (MDA) conference in Kuala Lumpur June 20-21st. Malaysia has a population of around 28 million but has only about 550 working dietitians, around 380 work for the government and around 150 work in the food industry and private sector, but the precise number is not known. The government is trying to build its workforce to around 3000 over the next decade or so. The growth has been amazing. Prior to 1989 all dietitians were educated in other countries, with around 10-15 in the country. From one university producing graduates in 1989 there are now 7 universities producing. Around. 250 graduates a year. The MDA has a membership of 700 or so, with only 3 members over 60 yrs of age. Two-thirds are under 30 yrs of age. To have 340 at the conference was a really good outcome!
Malaysia like many of our countries where dietetics is in a growth and development phase, faces many challenges. National registration is close. But not yet achieved, but should be soon. There is a move toward identifying standards for education, or rather, more than specifying a four year degree, and there are aspirations to build further educational opportunities. The research culture is fledgling but developing. There were excellent posters at the conference.
I had the pleasure of judging case studies presented by students and by practitioners. The standard was excellent, with the student presentations being equal to other student presentations I have assessed.
But one thing was different. At the dinner, dietitians and students provided the entertainment. Singing, games and dancing all performed with aplomb by members of the profession.
So, well done to the team in Malaysia. It is terrific talking to dietetics professionals from other countries.
Chair, Board of Directors