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Nutritional status has remained inadequate among disadvantaged mothers and small children in South Africa. Several supplementation programmes are administered through primary health clinics (PHC). The present study examined the perceptions of mothers who attend PHC and of the PHC staff on the purpose, management and eligibility of the vitamin A and nutritional supplementation components of the Nutrition Supplementation Programme (NSP).
Observational study based on anthropometry and questionnaires.
Random selection of ten urban and ten rural PHC from the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
Mothers (n 176) and their children (n 179) aged <5 years, and various PHC staff categories.
Half (56 %) of the households were classified as food insecure and about one-third of the children were malnourished, as evidenced by stunting, wasting or underweight. A majority of mothers complained about poor information related to the programmes. More than half of the children who were eligible for NSP were not included. In contrast, the staff felt that they managed both programmes well and problems with implementation were mostly attributed to clients.
In general, the mothers expressed more dissatisfaction and ignorance about the vitamin A programme and the NSP than was perceived by the staff. This apparent discrepancy might, at least in part, explain why these programmes do not work optimally.
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