Community-based growth monitoring in a rural area lacking health facilities

Faber, M. (2002-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A community-based growth monitoring (GM) project was established in a rural village in KwaZulu-Natal. The project is an example of community-based activities that were based on a participatory approach of problem assessment and analysis. The first phase of the study comprised of a situation assessment. The aim was to evaluate the nutritional status and related factors of children aged 5 years and younger. It included a cross-sectional survey (questionnaire and anthropometric measurements), focus group discussions and interviews with key informants. From a nutritional point of view, the situation assessment identified a need for regular GM of infants and small children, increased availability of foods rich in micronutrients, and nutrition education. Relevant findings of the situation assessment were used during a project planning workshop that was attended by community representatives. The community's concern about the health of the preschool children and the lack of health facilities, and the need for regular weighing of their children prompted the establishment of a community-based GM project. The GM project was run by nutrition monitors, through home-based centres (named Isizinda). Monthly activities at the Isizinda included GM, nutrition education, and recording of morbidity and mortality data. Children who were either in need of medical attention or showed growth faltering were referred to the nearest clinic. During the latter half of the study, the GM project was integrated with a household food production project and the Isizinda served as promotion and training centres for agricultural activities. Project activities were continuously monitored by reviewing the attendance register, scrutinising the Isizinda files, observation and staff meetings. Community meetings (at least twice a year) allowed for two-way feedback and addressing questions and concerns. Acceptability of the GM activities was measured in terms of attendance and maternal perceptions. The coverage of the Isizinda project was estimated at approximately 90% and at least 60% of these children were adequately covered. The Isizinda data showed an equal distribution of child contacts over the various age categories and was representative of the community. The attendance data suggest that community-based GM is a viable option to be used for screening and nutrition surveillance, and as platform for nutrition education. Most mothers comprehended the growth curve. Positive behavioural changes have been observed in the community and the Isizinda data showed a steady decline in the prevalence of diarrhoea. The Ndunakazi mothers were appreciative towards the Isizinda project because of a better understanding of the benefits of regular GM. They expressed a sense of empowerment regarding the knowledge that they have gained. The community had a strong desire for the project to continue. The Isizinda project showed that community-based GM can provide the infrastructure for developing capacity for agricultural activities within the community. Data from the household food production project showed that maternal knowledge regarding nutritional issues can be improved through nutrition education given at the GM sessions and that, when GM is integrated with agricultural activities, a significant improvement in child malnutrition can be obtained. The Isizinda project falls within the framework of the Integrated Nutrition Programme, and can bridge the gap in areas which lack health facilities.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: ’n Gemeenskaps-gebaseerde groeimoniteringsprojek is tot stand gebring in ’n landelike gebied in KwaZulu-Natal. Die projek is 'n voorbeeld van gemeenskapsgebaseerde aktiwiteite wat gebaseer was op 'n deelnemende benadering van probleem bepaling en analise. Die eerste fase van die studie was a situasie analise. Die doel was om die voedingstatus en verwante faktore van kinders 5 jaar en jonger te bepaal. Dit het 'n dwarssnit opname (vraelys en antropometriese metinge), fokus groep besprekings en onderhoude met kern persone ingesluit. Uit 'n voedingsoogpunt het die situasie analise 'n behoefte vir gereelde groeimonitoring van babas en klein kinders, verhoogde beskikbaarheid van voedsels ryk in mikronutriente and voedingsvoorligting aangedui. Toepaslike bevindinge van die situasie analise was gebruik tydens ’n beplannings werkswinkel wat deur verteenwoordigers van die gemeenskap bygewoon is. Die gemeenskap se besorgdheid oor die gesondheid van voorskoolse kinders en die gebrek aan gesondheidsfasilitieite, asook hul behoefte om hul kinders gereeld te laat weeg, het aanleiding gegee tot die totstandkoming van ’n gemeenskaps-gebaseerde groeimoniteringsprojek. Die program is gedryf deur monitors deur tuisgebaseerde sentrums (genoem Isizinda). Maandelikse aktiwiteite by die Isizinda het groeimonitering, voedingvoorligting en die insameling van morbiditeit en mortaliteit inligting ingesluit. Kinders wie mediese sorg benodig het of wie groeivertraging getoon het, is na die naaste kliniek verwys. Die groeimoniteringsprojek is tydens die laaste helfte van die studie met ’n huishoudelike voedselproduksieprojek geintegreer en die Isizinda het as promosie- en opleidingsentrum vir die landbou aktiwitiete gedien. Projek aktiwiteite is deurgaans gemonitor deur die bywoningsregister en Isizinda leêrs deur te gaan, waarnemings en personeel vergaderings. Vergaderings met die gemeenskap (ten minste twee per jaar) het voorsiening gemaak vir wedersydse terugvoering en die aanspreek van vrae en besorgdhede. Die aanvaarbaarheid van die groeimoniterings aktiwiteite is gemeet in terme van bywoning en persepsies. Die Isizinda projek het ongeveer 90% van die kinders gedek, van wie ten minste 60% voldoende gemoniteer is. Die Isizinda data het ’n eweredige verspreiding van besoeke oor die verskillende oudersdomgroepe aangetoon. Die Isizinda data was ook verteenwoordigend van die gemeenskap. Die bywoningssyfers dui aan dat gemeenskapsgebaseerde groeimonitoring 'n lewensvatbare opsie is vir sifting en voeding opnames, en as 'n platform vir voedingvoorligting. Meeste moeders kon die groeikaart interpreteer. Positiewe gedragsveranderinge is in die gemeenskap waargeneem en die Isizinda data het ’n geleidelike afname in die voorkoms van diarree getoon. Die Ndunakazi moeders was waarderend teenoor die Isizinda projek as gevolg van 'n beter begrip ten opsigte van die voordele van gereelde groeimonitering. Hulle het 'n gevoel van bemagteging uitgespreek ten opsigte van hul verbeterde kennis. Hulle was mening dat die projek moes voortgaan. Die Isizinda projek het aangetoon dat gemeenskapsgebaseerde groeimonitoring die infrstruktuur kan skep vir die ontwikkeling vir kapasiteit vir landbou aktiwiteite binne die gemeenskap. Inligting van die huishoudelike voedselproduksieprojek het aangetoon dat die moeders se kennis ten opsigte van voedings verwante aspekte verbeter kan word deur voedingvoorligting wat gegee word tydens die groeimonitering sessie en dat, as groeimonitoring geintegreer is met landbou aktwiteite, 'n verbetering in die voedingstatus van die kind verkry kan word. Die Isizinda projek val binne die raamwerk van die Geintegreerde Voedingsprogram en kan die gaping dek in areas waar geen gesondheidsfasilteite is nie.

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