How immediate and significant is the outcome of training on diversified diets, hygiene and food safety? An effort to mitigate child undernutrition in rural Malawi
This article (PDF) in the journal Public Health Nutrition examined the impacts of training on nutrition, hygiene and food safety designed by the Nutrition Working Group, Child Survival Collaborations and Resources Group (CORE). Undernutrition in children has been detrimental to economic and social development in low-income countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. Mothers were trained on the subjects of appropriate complementary feeding, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices, and aflatoxin contamination in food. To assess the impacts on child undernutrition, a randomized controlled trial was implemented on a sample of 179 mothers and their children (<2 years old) in two districts of Malawi, namely Mzimba and Balaka. Results revealed that the impacts of the comprehensive training were positive and statistically significant on the Z-scores for wasting and underweight, where the effects increased constantly over time within the 21d time frame. As for stunting, the coefficients were not statistically significant during the 21d program, although the level of significance started increasing in 2 weeks, indicating that stunting should also be alleviated in a slightly longer time horizon. The study also indicates a huge area of concern on food safety, since more than half the urine samples of children studied indicated aflatoxin contamination, though this did not exert significant effect on nutrition outcomes per se. In conclusion, the research points to new direction and approaches for achieving better health outcomes amongst low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa.