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To review the prevalence, severity and determinants of anaemia among women in West and Central Africa (WCA) and raise awareness among policy makers and programme planners in the region.
Systematic descriptive review of data in the public domain of the ORC Macro MEASURE Demographic and Health Surveys, national nutrition surveys, oral and technical communications at regional meetings, studies published in scientific journals, and WHO and UNICEF databases.
West and Central Africa region.
Women of childbearing age.
The prevalence of anaemia among pregnant and non-pregnant women is higher than 50 % and 40 %, respectively, in all countries. Within countries, this prevalence varies by living setting (rural v. urban), women's age and education. Across countries, socio-economic and climatic differences have no apparent association with the prevalence of anaemia among women. Several factors contribute either alone or jointly to the high rates of maternal anaemia in this region. These include widespread nutritional deficiencies; high incidence of infectious diseases; low access to and poor quality of health services; low literacy rates; ineffective design, implementation and evaluation of anaemia control programmes; and poverty.
Addressing the multiple causes and minimizing the consequences of anaemia on maternal and child health and development in WCA require integrated multifactorial and multisectoral strategies. This also calls for unprecedented, historical and stronger political will and commitment that put adolescent girls and maternal health at the centre of the development agenda.
To investigate the effects of currency devaluation on dietary change and nutritional vulnerability of poor households in two African capital cities.
A qualitative study based on 120 semistructured individual interviews and four focus group discussions in each city.
Dakar, Senegal (western Africa) and Brazzaville, Congo (central Africa).
All of the subjects were randomly selected women from modest or poor households, who spoke the local common language and were responsible for household meal preparation. Only those likely to restrict the dynamic of focus group discussions (because of language, age or education) were excluded.
Changes were found in meal preparation characteristics (frequency, sharing pattern) and meal composition. There was frequent depletion of fat and vegetable contents in meals, frequent elimination of desserts and even the elimination of one daily meal. These changes specifically affected economically disadvantaged and socially isolated households, and those headed by women. Other changes were the reduction in the size of consumption units and the development of neighbourhood-specific street food – which has been a growing trend in Brazzaville since the outset of the economic crisis but is more recent in Dakar.
If lasting, these changes pose a dual health risk, i.e. reducing dietary diversity and altering the bacteriological quality of prepared meals. In addition, attempts to reduce the consumption units were found to upset community ties that bind these societies.
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