December 16, 2021

Request for Consultancy Proposal from the Physicians Association for Nutrition

Overview/Who We Are

Physicians Association for Nutrition (PAN) is a global charity based in Germany with multiple national offices in Europe, the United States, South Africa, and Israel. We are expanding to major Global South countries and are on the precipice of launching in India. We are seeking to engage a consultant in India to advise us on launching PAN India.

PAN was formed in 2018 to promote the evidence-based benefits of whole food, plant-based nutrition. Our mission is to eliminate diet-related morbidity and mortality worldwide while promoting wellness by making whole food, plant-based nutrition a core part of healthcare. Poor diets are the major cause of chronic illness throughout the world and are responsible for at least 20% of premature death. By engaging health professionals in efforts towards healthy and sustainable food environments, PAN is advancing the food transformation needed to mitigate the three largest global health crises: chronic disease, climate change and pandemic risk.

Definition of “whole food, plant-based“: The current scientific evidence around individual and planetary health points to a diet centered around whole, unrefined, or minimally processed plant foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, spices, nuts, and seeds. This is what can be described as a “whole food, plant-based diet“. The definition includes plant-based patterns like (whole food) Mediterranean, vegetarian, and vegan diets.

PAN works by:

  1. Educating clinicians and medical students on plant-based nutrition;
  2. Empowering physicians and other clinicians with both a clinical network and practical tools; and
  3. Engaging them on needed structural changes.

In India, we anticipate initially focusing more on dietary diseases of overconsumption, i.e. ‘nutrition insecurity,‘ the challenges of eating a healthy diet, vs. ‘food insecurity,‘ inadequate calories.

What We Are Seeking

Our initial phase endeavors to understand the opportunities and potential challenges in building PAN India, a national charity focused on engaging physicians and medical students, and other clinicians, on scientifically based whole food, plant-based nutrition for health and wellness, and disease treatment and mitigation. After successful opportunity evaluation, we anticipate launching PAN India.

Our information needs:

We believe we need to understand three constituencies in India:

  1. Physicians to understand their current practices regarding inclusion of diet and nutrition in their treatments and their role as recommenders and influencers in driving dietary change.
  2. Medical schools and medical students – to understand the medical education landscape; course content and coverage of diet and nutrition in their curriculum.
  3. Diet and nutrition profile of Indians as well as understand the prevalence of obesity and lifestyle diseases.

Key questions that need to be addressed:

1. Physicians

We need answers to the following questions to guide us in finalizing our approach towards practicing medical doctors in India to drive the adoption of plant-based nutrition:

  • What is the role of diet and nutrition in their treatment?
  • Is diet something that they talk about regularly with their patients?
  • What are common recommendations?
  • What are current tools for medical doctors to support their patients regarding dietary change?
  • What are the current sources/resources medical doctors in India trust when it comes to nutrition in medicine?
  • What are their perceptions and beliefs about plant-based nutrition?
  • What are the main nutrients health professionals worry about when hearing about plant-based and especially vegan diets?
  • What does the market for supplements and plant-based (meat and dairy) alternatives look like?
  • What are the common positive health framings around the different animal products, especially chicken, eggs, and dairy?
  • Which foods would they recommend to get enough of the main critical nutrients?
  • What are the barriers towards recommending plant-based nutrition?
  • How do they conceive and react to plant-based diets as “original/traditional diets”?  
  • In what conditions would they recommend plant-based nutrition?
  • What new policies or changes in the existing policies around animal foods/ plant-based foods would they recommend and support?

We would also like to understand in-depth from the physicians the considerations that they take into account and the challenges that they face while recommending dietary changes. We believe that there are several cultural, social, religious, economic and other factors that influence their recommendations. A deep-dive into such factors would help us in planning the outreach and communication plans of the proposed engagement with the physicians.

2. Medical schools & medical students

To understand the extent to which PAN’s proven strategy of working with medical students in Europe can be implemented in India, we need to understand the medical school system and curriculum set up in terms of:

Medical education institutions:

  • How are medical students organized at medical schools in India?
  • What are the top twenty medical schools with respective impacts on the whole medical community in India?
  • What is the role of ‘student projects’ in the academic evaluation of medical students? Do such projects affect the medical curriculum or the respective faculties in general?
  • Map the existing interest at medical schools on plant-based nutrition.
  • Are there any activities currently on to make nutrition education a part of the medical curriculum at these (or any) medical schools?
  • What is the academic environment on Indian medical research papers on plant-centered and vegan diets? How many professors participate? How do they view these efforts? How credible do they think these research papers are?
  • Which organizations or individuals in the medical community could be potential allies of PAN?
  • Are there any medical professors that might support PAN on a scientific advisory board, and could connect PAN to a renowned University?

Medical students:

  • What do medical students learn about nutrition in medical schools in India?
  • Which topic is of most interest to medical students when it comes to nutrition and health? Individual health for their patients (which diseases?)/their own health? (such as athletic performance?), climate crisis? pandemics/antimicrobial resistance?
  • What are their perceptions and beliefs about plant-based nutrition?
  • What are the main nutrients, in their opinion, they would worry about when hearing about plant-based/vegan diets?
  • What is their perception about the role of diet and nutrition in the treatment?

The above two modules will provide us with an understanding of the main arguments against plant-based (incl. vegan) diets among Indian health professionals.

3. Indians

We would like to segment the Indian population granularly in terms of their diet profile and nutrition to get an in-depth understanding of:

  • The current dietary habits and nutrition levels x States x population strata. We would also like to understand the changes, if any, in their consumption habits.
  • The prevalence of obesity, chronic ailments and other lifestyle diseases.
  • Common measures employed to fight these ailments.
  • Physical fitness and exercise regime.
  • Consumption levels of animal products/meats.

We see the above questions being addressed by a review of published data, syndicated research and other databases.

Besides your detailed proposal, please also provide:

  1. Profile of the company along with audited financial statements for the last 3 years.
  2. Project team and their Bio/CV of key individuals.
  3. Domain knowledge and prior experience with related projects. Please also include the number of interviews done with physicians (by specialization) in the last 3 years.
  4. Tell us why you feel motivated to participate in this project.
  5. Your method of contacting and verification of the interviews amongst physicians.
  6. Project plan with timelines – we expect the project to be completed in 12 weeks (inclusive of reports, presentation of findings and recommendations).
  7. Project fees and payment schedule.
  8. The anonymized raw data will have to be submitted to PAN.
    • The ownership of data will rest with PAN. It will have the right to use/ share/ disseminate the findings from this study with other stakeholders including government, academia, the public at large, other interested parties in whatever manner that it chooses.

Schedule:

We propose the following schedule for the submission of your response to the RFP:

  1. December 24, 2021: Company profile, profiles of key personnel, domain knowledge and experience and your reason to participate in the RFP
  2. December 24, 2021: Your queries and clarifications
  3. January 3 to 7, 2022: Response to your queries/ clarifications from PAN India
  4. January 14, 2022: Submission of your proposal
  5. February 4, 2022: Awarding the project by PAN India

For any questions, and to submit your response to this RFP, please send to both:

Niklas Oppenrieder, MD
International Medical Director, Physicians Association for Nutrition
n.oppenrieder@pan-int.org

Hemant Mehta
Research Consultant, PAN India
hemant@hemantmehta.in

Thank you for your interest in this important work!