Volunteering in Uganda
Dr Trish Heavey (Chair of the AHPI) describes her recent volunteering experience in Uganda with the charity Nurture Africa

Nurture Africa was founded by Irishman Brian Iredale and exists to nurture the mental, physical and emotional growth and well being of Ugandan HIV/AIDS infected and affected orphans and vulnerable children, as well as their HIV+ parents/guardians. The charity has a strong volunteering element and this year Health Science with Nutrition students from Athlone Institute of Technology along with myself as lecturer were invited to be part of this programme. Nurture Africa recognises the importance of diet and nutrition and prior to visiting Uganda and before we set off we worked together to design and develop suitable educational programmes and workshops. We had some groundwork done and in July we headed off to Nansana (outside the capitial, Kampala) for a 3 week adventure!

Nutrition education programmes were developed and tailored for different groups. The workshops were interactive and involved development of skills (such as designing healthy meals, preparation and cooking of healthy meals). These workshops were targeted for the following groups:

  • School children
  • Pregnant and lactating women
  • Mothers living with HIV
  • HIV patients
  • Youth programmes training young people to work in the hospitality industry Uganda4

Nutrition plays a vital role in health and wellbeing and education and access to food is essential throughout the lifespan. For mothers it is important to know and practice good habits: by eating well themselves, breastfeeding exclusively up to six months, and then providing nourishing complementary food while continuing to breastfeed. It is important to ensure that children develop properly both mentally and physically. School children are at an important stage for forming good dietary habits, and it is important that they eat and enjoy a variety of foods and to avoid too many sweets and sugary drinks and foods high in salt. Like Ireland, the lure of fizzy drinks is becoming a big problem! People living with HIV and AIDS benefit from understanding that a good diet helps build resistance to infection. It was fantastic for us to be part of these projects and it was also a hugely beneficial experience for us to learn all about the local produce and crops grown in the region, their nutritional benefits and how they can be used in the diet.
In addition,we were also involved in nutritional assessment programmes- measuring dietary intake in children as well as clinical measurements. This helped Nurture Africa assess the success of various feeding programmes already in place as well as identify those schools where future programmes and education are required. 


The Health Science with Nutrition students also were provided with the opportunity to

  • Prepare and implement library learning in schools. The students prepared activities (reading and games) that they delivered in local schools
  • Assist with sanitary pad workshops. This was a programme whereby young teenagers at school are trained to make re-usable sanitary pads (presently many young women can miss up to a week at school each month due to lack of suitable resources). All of our students were trained in the making of the pads and they were then responsible for teaching teenagers at school.
  • Conduct home visits to understand the most common or priority medical needs facing the community
  • Learn about sustainable social development programmes such as the community workshop which supports early school leavers by retraining in programmes such as hospitality, woodwork, sewing and social skills.

The experience was both humbling and inspiring and it was an amazing opportunity for the students (and lecturer!). It was a privilege to be welcomed into these communities and be part of a two-way process where we imparted some knowledge and skills but gained so much more from working with these inspirational and wonderful people.


The Masters in Advanced Facilitation Skills for Promoting Health and Well Being offers participants a unique opportunity to finely tune their facilitation and personal skills through practical experience, group process and advanced personal development. For further information click here.

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This week at the Annual Healthy Ireland Network, the Minister for Health Promotion, Ms Catherine Byrne TD, launched the new Healthy Meeting Guidelines. These guidelines are such as useful and timely resource since meetings are a regular part of many people’s working lives and often involve sitting for a long time with few opportunities to be active. The guidelines offer practical suggestions for healthy food options and for including opportunities for physical activity. In addition, Ashling Jennings who is a member of the AHPI and IUHPE Registered Health Promotion Practitioner was involved in the development of the guidelines. Ashling’s research, as part of her MA in Health Promotion in NUI Galway, contributed to the development of these Healthy Meeting Guidelines.

Health Meetings Guidelines


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AHPI welcomes the introduction of the levy on sugar sweetened drinks.

AHPI welcomes the introduction of the tax on sugar sweetened drinks, which comes into force in Ireland today. AHPI has lobbied for this tax, which is one of a range of measures and interventions which will be required to reduce obesity in Ireland. Sugar sweetened drinks are readily available and high in calories. They are strongly associated with weight gain and are heavily marketed, especially to children. The introduction of this tax is already having a positive effect as some manufacturers have started to reformulate their drinks by reducing the amount of added sugar levels in them.

  1. AHPI is the professional body for Health Promotion practitioners. Our website is
  2. For further information, contact Dr Patricia Heavey. Tel 087 6920885 Email:

Celebrating 20 years of HBSC data in Ireland, the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway is now collecting data for the 6th HBSC survey in Ireland! Find out more at"

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