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To collect context-specific insights into maternal and child health and nutrition issues, and to explore potential solutions in Nanoro, Burkina Faso.
Eleven focus groups with men and women from eleven communities, facilitated by local researchers.
The study took place in the Nanoro Health district, in the West-Central part of Burkina Faso.
Eighty-six men (18–55 years) and women by age group: 18–25; 26–34 and 35–55 years, participated in the group discussions.
Participants described barriers to optimal nutrition of mothers and children related to a range of community factors, with gender inequality as central. Major themes in the discussions are related to poverty and challenges generated by socially and culturally determined gender roles. Sub-themes are women lacking access to food whilst pregnant and having limited access to health care and opportunities to generate income. Although communities believe that food donations should be implemented to overcome this, they also pointed out the need for enhancing their own food production, requiring improved agricultural technologies. Given the important role that women could play in reducing malnutrition, these communities felt they needed to be empowered to do so and supported by men. They also felt that this had to be carried out in the context of an enhanced health care system.
Findings reported here highlight the importance of nutrition-sensitive interventions and women’s empowerment in improving maternal and child nutrition. There is a need to integrate a sustainable multi-sectorial approach which goes beyond food support.
Despite efforts to improve maternal and child nutrition, undernutrition remains a major public health challenge in Ghana. The current study explored community perceptions of undernutrition and context-specific interventions that could improve maternal and child nutrition in rural Northern Ghana.
This exploratory qualitative study used ten focus group discussions to gather primary data. The discussions were recorded, transcribed and coded into themes using Nvivo 12 software to aid thematic analysis.
The study was conducted in rural Kassena-Nankana Districts of Northern Ghana.
Thirty-three men and fifty-one women aged 18–50 years were randomly selected from the community.
Most participants reported poverty, lack of irrigated agricultural land and poor harvests as the main barriers to optimal nutrition. To improve maternal and child nutrition, study participants suggested that the construction of dams at the community level would facilitate all year round farming including rearing of animals. Participants perceived that the provision of agricultural materials such as high yield seedlings, pesticides and fertiliser would help boost agricultural productivity. They also recommended community-based nutrition education by trained health volunteers, focused on types of locally produced foods and appropriate ways to prepare them to help improve maternal and child nutrition.
Drawing on these findings and existing literature, we argue that supporting community initiated nutrition interventions such as improved irrigation for dry season farming, provision of agricultural inputs and community education could improve maternal and child nutrition.
To explore community perceptions on maternal and child nutrition issues in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Thirty focus groups with men and women from three communities facilitated by local researchers.
One urban (Soweto, South Africa) and two rural settings (Navrongo, Ghana and Nanoro, Burkina Faso) at different stages of economic transition.
Two hundred thirty-seven men and women aged 18–55 years, mostly subsistence farmers in Navrongo and Nanoro and low income in Soweto.
Differences in community concerns about maternal and child health and nutrition reflected the transitional stage of the country. Community priorities revolved around poor nutrition and hunger caused by poverty, lack of economic opportunity and traditional gender roles. Men and women felt they had limited control over food and other resources. Women wanted men to take more responsibility for domestic chores, including food provision, while men wanted more involvement in their families but felt unable to provide for them. Solutions suggested focusing on ways of increasing control over economic production, family life and domestic food supplies. Rural communities sought agricultural support, while the urban community wanted regulation of the food environment.
To be acceptable and effective, interventions to improve maternal and child nutrition need to take account of communities’ perceptions of their needs and address wider determinants of nutritional status and differences in access to food reflecting the stage of the country’s economic transition. Findings suggest that education and knowledge are necessary but not sufficient to support improvements in women’s and children’s nutritional status.
To obtain a community perspective on key nutrition-specific problems and solutions for mothers and children.
A qualitative study comprising nine focus group discussions (FGD) following a semi-structured interview guide.
The township of Soweto in South Africa with a rising prevalence of double burden of malnutrition.
Men and women aged ≥18 years (n 66). Three FGD held with men, six with women.
Despite participants perceived healthy diet to be important, they felt their ability to maintain a healthy diet was limited. Inexpensive, unhealthy food was easier to access in Soweto than healthier alternatives. Factors such as land use, hygiene and low income played a fundamental role in shaping access to foods and decisions about what to eat. Participants suggested four broad areas for change: health sector, social protection, the food system and food environment. Their solutions ranged from improved nutrition education for women at clinic visits, communal vegetable gardens and government provision of food parcels to regulatory measures to improve the healthiness of their food environment.
South Africa’s current nutrition policy environment does not adequately address community-level needs that are often linked to structural factors beyond the health sector. Our findings suggest that to successfully address the double burden of malnutrition among women and children, a multifaceted approach is needed combining action on the ground with coherent policies that address upstream factors, including poverty. Further, there is a need for public engagement and integration of community perspectives and priorities in developing and implementing double-duty actions to improve nutrition.
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