Policies and program implementation experience to improve maternal nutrition in Ethiopia

Type Journal Article - Food & Nutrition Bulletin
Title Policies and program implementation experience to improve maternal nutrition in Ethiopia
Volume 33
Issue Supplement 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012
Page numbers 27-50
URL http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/nsinf/fnb/2012/00000033/a00102s1/art00003
Background: Maternal undernutrition persists as a serious problem in Ethiopia. Although there are maternal nutrition interventions that are efficacious and effective in improving maternal, neonatal, and child health (MNCH) outcomes, implementation has been limited.

Objective: This study explored needs, perceptions, priorities, facilitating factors and barriers to implementation of relevant policies and programs to find opportunities to improve maternal nutrition in Ethiopia

Methods: Background information was compiled and synthesized for a situation analysis. This informed focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with mothers, community leaders, health workers, and district health officials in four woredas (districts) in Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region.

Results: Findings focused on three priority issues: maternal anemia, intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), and maternal thinness and stunting. Community-level investigations found that women's low status, food insecurity and poverty, and workload were key factors perceived to contribute to women's undernutrition. Awareness of and demand for services to improve women's nutrition were low, except for high demand for supplementary food. On the supply side, barriers included low prioritization of maternal nutrition in health and nutrition service delivery and weak technical capacity to deliver context-sensitive maternal nutrition interventions at all levels.

Conclusions: Community-based health and nutrition services were promising platforms for expanding access to interventions such as micronutrient supplements and social and behavior change communication. Investments are needed to support these community-based programs, including training, supplies, supervision and monitoring. To address IUGR at scale, increased access to cash or food transfers could be explored.

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