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To evaluate the quality of policies concerning the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of anaemia in children and adolescents; to determine to what extent these are evidence-based; and to use this analysis to inform the policy-making process.
Children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa.
Almost 50 % of children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa are anaemic, which has profound effects on their intellectual and physical development and their chance of survival. Evidence-based policies are essential to reduce anaemia but because it is caused by an array of interdependent factors, developing policies is challenging.
Forty-six policy documents concerning the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of anaemia in children and adolescents were identified and analysed.
There was policy consensus on the usefulness of Fe supplements, the need to treat co-morbidities and the use of blood transfusions for severe anaemia. Information about diagnosis was scarce, and messages regarding the control of anaemia were mixed. Few of the policies were tailored for the African context and they were located on several websites hosted by different health programmes.
The weakest aspects of the policies and consequently the priorities for better policy making were: lack of adherence to WHO recommendations for guideline development; little involvement of African practitioners/policy makers in the guideline group and as peer reviewers; and lack of harmonisation, demonstrating the need to establish a single body responsible for developing/revising anaemia policies.
To evaluate acceptability, compliance and attitude towards the use of iron pots compared with aluminium pots, for cooking in a community that traditionaly did not use iron pots.
Two rural Malawian villages.
Fifty-two households received iron pots and 61 aluminium pots.
Pot characteristics were assessed by a questionnaire after 3, 6, 11 and 20 weeks of use. Within households using iron pots there was a significant decrease in acceptability score with usage, from an initial value of 13.7 to 11.4 (range 1–20) (P = 0.01). Answers to questions concerning cooking characteristics showed that after 3 weeks' use the aluminium pot scored better, whereas after 20 weeks fewer answers differed between the iron and aluminium pot groups. Almost a third of the households planned to continue using iron pots daily after 20 weeks, although they had ready access to their former aluminium pot. The presence of a group of consistent pot users suggests that if households were convinced about daily use, then they were likely to maintain consistent use. Some householders considered that iron pots required less firewood for cooking than aluminium pots. The main problems related to lower acceptability were rusting and pot weight. About 25% of problems with iron pots were unrelated to their cast iron characteristics. Overall 23.4% of the households indicated they would buy an iron pot.
The low acceptability of iron pots for cooking could limit their value as an intervention to control iron-deficiency anaemia. Design modifications and better instructions on pot use should improve acceptability. The study highlights the need to assess the acceptability of interventions in order to facilitate their adoption in traditional communities.
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