Working in Government is an opportunity to serve my country- Celiwe

24 October 2023

Celiwe Nsibande heads the nutrition department at Manzini Government Hospital (formerly the National TB Hospital) and aspires to inspire the next generation of dietitians in Eswatini. In this latest instalment of our civil servants’ blog, Celiwe shares about her role as a clinical dietitian working in Government.

Government Communications (GC): “When did you join the Civil Service?”

Celiwe Nsibande (CN): “I joined the civil service in June 2018, so I have been a civil servant for five years and four months now.”

GC: “What is your current job now and what does it entail?”

CN: “I am a Clinical Dietitian at Manzini Government Hospital (former National TB Hospital). I am head of the nutrition department there, and my responsibilities include administering medical nutrition therapy to critically ill patients and supporting the catering kitchen unit with the preparation of specialized diets. Medical nutrition therapy involves supporting patients nutritionally through the prescription of therapeutic feeds and provision of nutrition education and counselling. A specialised diet is one that provides therapeutic benefits for the management of disease conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and renal failure.”

GC: “So far, what would you say the biggest highlight/achievement of your Civil Service journey has been?”

CN: “My biggest highlight as a Clinical Dietitian has to be when I was assigned by the then deputy director of health services to give an interview on Eswatini TV, talking about the nutritional management of the coronavirus in 2020. I have also been fortunate to receive opportunities to work with various nutrition and public health stakeholders over the years, where I have contributed to the development of key national nutrition policies.”

GC: “What is the biggest project that you have been involved in working for Government?”

CN: “I have had the responsibility of providing clinical nutrition services to patients with complex disease conditions that are challenging to manage (drug-resistant TB, COVID-19 and currently cancer) over the past 5 plus years, so I consider my entire journey as a clinician as the biggest assignment I’ve undertaken.”

GC: “What do you love the most about working in Government?”

CN: “Definitely the number of leave days! I say this because opportunities for rest and recreation are important for a young professional like myself and longer leave days mean that I am able to strike a good work-life-balance. I do also love how being in civil service gives me an opportunity to serve my country in a way that I’m most passionate about.”

GC: “What do you love the most about your job and profession?”

CN: “What I love the most about my profession is that it is an underrepresented area of expertise, not only in Eswatini but within the black community, as well. Thus, being a dietitian gives me an opportunity to contribute to the strengthening of the country’s nutrition system. I also get to be a representation of a career that is not yet widely pursued by most, so I can only hope that my job serves to highlight the necessity of nutrition services as we strive to improve the health and well-being of emaSwati.”

GC: “What would you say are some of the challenges that come with your job?”

CN: “I’ve already mentioned that my profession is underrepresented in the country. As a result, I’d say the most challenging part of my job has been the inadequate support and financing of clinical nutrition services. This is a job that relies heavily on resources, and the long-term shortages of those resources almost renders one redundant in their role. Ultimately, one can only go so far in addressing fully the nutritional needs of patients.”

GC: “What lessons have you learnt working for Government?”

CN: “The biggest lesson I have learnt working for Government is that civil service is not about holding a particular position or office, it is about constantly learning how to be a better servant. I can accredit a lot of my growth to opening myself up to opportunities outside of my clinical role and working with different Government stakeholders within the public health space. As a result, I have been able to contribute to work that makes a difference beyond the facility I am attached at.”

GC: “What advice would you have for someone who wants to work for Government?

CN: “A piece of advice I would give to someone considering working for Government would be to start preparing early because Government hiring processes can be quite lengthy and challenging to navigate. Reach out to professionals in the civil service to find out more about the position you’re looking to apply for so to gain clarity of what will be required of you, and also get to understand the structure of the civil service sector. I started enquiring about available positions for my qualification whilst I was still in school. By the time I graduated, I had an understanding of the timeline and steps ahead I would need to go through. This helped me to stay prepared for whenever the Civil Service Commission would call me up for interviews or submission of required documents.”

GC: “What are your aspirations for the future in Government?”

CN: “I am quite passionate about healthcare, so my future aspiration is to be a health policy and management consultant to our Ministry of Health. I believe the country could benefit from the modernization of our healthcare system and better strategic organizational management. The best way to achieve this is through policies and processes that will provide guidance, consistency, accountability and efficiency within our healthcare system.”


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