The Kenya Union of Nutritionists and Dieticians (KUNAD), the trade union that seeks to represent Kenyan nutritionists in labour matters, finally got the approval to be legally registered union.
This is following a ruling in their favour at the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Mombasa on the 4th of this month.
In May 2019, the Registrar of Trade Unions had declined efforts to get the nascent union to be registered. This prompted the union officials to file an appeal challenging the decision through their legal counsels, Mr. Jackson Muchiri and Mr. Oscar Litoro, at the aforementioned court.
A Long Wait
The new union is in fact hardly new. Its actual birthing can be traced as far back as 2016. The budding union however only got the impetus to get on its feet in 2017 following an exposé on a popular Kenyan blog.
The investigative piece which was sent anonymously to the blogger, detailed the poor management of the nutrition regulatory body, KNDI, by the then chairperson.
Some of the issues it brought to the fore included the steep mandatory registration fees for nutrition trainees, the year-long unpaid internship of degree holders and the unnecessary graduation following completion of said internship.
Of the these, only the latter got resolved and the former two still stand as they were.
A New Dawn
Following this good news, nutritionists in the country can look forward to having their working rights represented as it’s the case with other medical professionals that have unions.
Top of the list of issues to address is the lack of sufficient nutritionists and dietitians in healthcare institutions and the encroachment of their roles by other professions as well as quacks.
This lack of adequate manpower has gone unchecked for several years now despite clear signs of its necessity amidst the rise of lifestyle diseases. Yet, hundreds of nutritionists graduate each passing year as many more get registered to practice in an industry beset by few career opportunities.
It’s our hope that the union will address this matter forthrightly as it seeks to improve the working conditions of those currently practising this noble profession.