Mother to mother training is key to combating child malnutrition
A recent study by Malawi's Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources revealed that training mothers to make small changes to their diets and how food is prepared has significant benefits for children and reducing child malnutrition.
The study highlights that collaboration between mothers and sharing knowledge of food hygiene and diet variation helps prevent diarrhoea and results in consistent weight gain in young children. The World Health Organisation report that diarrhoea is the leading cause of malnutrition in children.
According to UNICEF under-nutrition is responsible for the deaths of approximately 3 million under fives every year as it makes them far more vulnerable to disease and infection. In Malawi, where the research was conducted, one in six children are underweight and nearly half are stunted.
Stunting is a significant problem that UNICEF is committed to tackling as medical experts believe that stunting hinders children’s cognitive abilities and economic potential. Stunted children typically complete fewer school years and have lower incomes as adults.
The study focused on 179 mothers of children under the age of two in districts where the majority of families are small scale farmers. The researchers developed two porridge recipes using locally available foods and mothers with healthy children led cooking classes and training sessions for others.
The researchers recorded children’s weight, height and arm circumference along with the incidence of diarrhoea. Children whose mothers received training demonstrated significant improvements, with weight increasing and cases of diarrhoea reducing almost entirely.
This research is promising news as the approach could be scaled up to significantly improve child malnutrition in Africa at a low cost.
Child and maternal health, as well as innovations and technologies to support health SDGs, are some of the key topics being discussed at the 3rd annual Aid & Development Africa Summit, held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 27 – 28 February 2018.
View the Summit agenda at http://africa.aidforum.org/agenda for more topics and speakers.
Register your participation in the AIDF Africa Summit at http://africa.aidforum.org/register.
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Image source: World Food Programme