Dieticians use nutrition education and interventions to promote good health, prevent disease and manage disease in relation to food and lifestyle. Dieticians work with groups and individuals throughout the life cycle – from pregnancy, through infancy, childhood, adulthood and old age. They are the only nutrition experts trained to apply medical nutritional therapy, as part of the medical team, for disease management of nutrition-related conditions.

Dieticians can practice in the following settings:

  • Clinical Nutrition: This involves medical nutritional therapy for disease management including hospital diets, enteral nutrition, parenteral nutrition and baby feeding. Dieticians calculate and prescribe dietary interventions for patients.
  • Community Nutrition: This involves interventions in and education of community groups to improve health and awareness, and prevent common nutrition-related diseases (e.g. diabetes, hypertension).
  • Food Service: This involves the management of nutritious food provision to persons in hospitals or institutions.


  • The Public Sector: Clinics, hospitals and community health promotion.
  • The Private Sector: Private practice in hospitals, clinics and corporate settings.
  • Research Institutions: Food industry, universities, and research councils.

At Steve Biko Academic Hospital

Dieticians form part of the medical multi-disciplinary team for the treatment of all nutrition-related diseases. Their role includes optimising patients’ nutritional status, prescribing specialised diets/feeds, and educating patients and their families on nutritional management at home. The dieticians are also involved in the Food Service Unit. They plan the specialised hospital diets and menus, and monitor the implementation of these.

In-patient Care

The dieticians are involved in the following disciplines:

  • Paediatrics, neonatology, and ante-natal care
  • General and specialised surgery
  • Neurology and neurosurgery
  • Internal medicine
  • Oncology
  • Trauma and general ICU
  • Orthopaedics
  • Bariatrics

Out-patient Care

The dieticians run an out-patient clinic from Monday to Friday. Here they conduct assessment and counselling for general outpatients, and those referred from the following specialised clinics: diabetic clinic, neurodevelopmental intervention clinic, cystic fibrosis clinic, high risk baby clinic, encopresis clinic, allergy clinic and others.

Baby Feeding Unit and Donor Breastmilk Bank

The Baby Feeding Unit is responsible for the preparation of all baby feeds in the hospital, including fortified breastmilk and breastmilk substitutes or “baby formula” (in special circumstances). The dieticians manage the unit and prescribe appropriate feeds for the babies.

The dieticians coordinate a donor breastmilk bank at the hospital. This assists with the feeding of small, premature or abandoned babies who require breastmilk when a mother is unavailable or unable to breastfeed. Breastmilk donations come from mothers in the hospital as well as external donors (e.g. South African Breastmilk Reserve).

Multi-disciplinary Teamwork

As part of the multi-disciplinary team, the dieticians are involved in:

  • Ward rounds
  • Family meetings
  • Rehabilitation referrals
  • Staff training and lectures
  • Discharge and follow-up


The dieticians train dietetic students from the University of Pretoria. This includes guest lectures, coordinating practical training sessions, and evaluation of a formal internship which is completed at the hospital.

Health Promotion

The dieticians participate in and coordinate several nutrition-related awareness campaigns within the hospital. These are carried out on dedicated days or weeks in the year and include: Breastfeeding Week, Prematurity Day, and Nutrition Week.

Contact information

Dietetics Help Desk: 012 354 1096 (08:00 – 15:00)

General Enquiries: 012 354 1000