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Working with people living with diabetes and having worked with them to change their diet and to see their joy in their achievements and improvement in their diabetes control, is always rewarding!
Elisiva Na’ati is a dietician by profession and has a background in human nutrition public health nutrition, having worked in this field for the past 30 years now. Elisiva joined the Pacific Community (SPC) in 2016.
What inspired you to pursue a career in this field?
At first, it was the opportunity to pursue this study under a government funded scholarship. I also thought that for me, this is a new field of study and work, so it was interesting to do something different. It was only when the course program started that I realised that through this career I am pursing, I will be adding value to people’s health and wellbeing.
Tell us more about your profession and experience?
One thing I noticed was that this field of work is predominately made up of women. In most places and in the Pacific, dietitians and nutritionists are mainly women, however there are not that many of us compared to other health professionals.
Nutrition covers a broad spectrum that includes health, food science and other areas related to food and diet. This sometimes causes confusion among the general public on the difference in specialities and areas of work. Another interesting aspect is that food has some kind of link to a whole lot of health issues, either for prevention or management or both. For example, with non-communicable diseases, this calls for knowledge in areas other than nutrition only, such as health systems, policy and guideline interventions and so forth.
What makes you passionate about the work you do?
I think one of the most rewarding experiences and that fuels my career passion is to see the difference in people’s health outcomes because I have worked with them to achieve such outcomes. Before joining SPC I used to work with the Ministry of Health in Tonga. Here I would work with people living with diabetes and having worked with them to change their diet and to see their joy in their achievements and improvement with diabetes control, is always rewarding!
You have contributed towards COVID-19 preparedness and response work in the region, why must the region remain vigilant to this pandemic?
The fight to avoid and control COVID-19 is a whole of society approach where responsibilities are shared at individual level, family, community, government and country as a whole.
Ensuring our people are healthy and stay healthy through good practice of eating a healthy diet, being physically active, avoid smoking and alcohol, will build strong immunity to fight illnesses such as COVID-19.
Who do you look up to for inspiration and motivation?
I guess my parents will always be my role models. Although I do not have them with me anymore, the values and principles they had instilled in my life will always remain. I have also come across a few people in my career and my life, who have contributed to my personal and professional development and I will always value them.
You advise to anyone wanting to pursue a career in this field?
Go for it!