Article

Situational analysis of infant and young child nutrition policies and programmatic activities in Mali

Helen Keller International, Dakar, Senegal.
Maternal and Child Nutrition (Impact Factor: 2.97). 04/2011; 7 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):83-112. DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-8709.2010.00310.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Progress towards reducing mortality and malnutrition among children <5 years of age has been less than needed to achieve related Millennium Development Goals. Therefore, several international agencies joined to 'Reposition children's right to adequate nutrition in the Sahel', starting with a situational analysis of current activities related to infant and young child nutrition (IYCN). The main objectives of the situational analysis are to compile, analyse and interpret available information on infant and young child feeding, and the nutrition situation of children <2 years of age in Mali, as one of the six targeted countries. Between June and September 2008, key informants responsible for conducting IYCN-related activities in Mali were interviewed, and 117 documents were examined on the following themes: optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, prevention of micronutrient deficiencies, screening and management of acute malnutrition, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, food security, and hygienic practices. Most of the key IYCN topics were addressed in national policies, training materials, and programme documents. Information on the national coverage and impact of these programmes is generally not available. Exclusive breastfeeding (<6 months) has increased in Mali, but no studies identified the contributors to this increase. Despite improvements in breastfeeding practices, optimal infant, and young child feeding is still practiced among too few young children in Mali. Several research articles were identified, but few of these were linked to programme development. Some programme monitoring and evaluation reports were available, but few of these were rigorous enough to identify whether IYCN-specific programme components were implemented as designed or were achieving desired outcomes. Therefore, we could not confirm which programmes contributed to reported improvements. Monitoring of programmes managing malnutrition identified gaps in human and institutional capacities to fully carry out intended interventions and the government has recognized the overall lack of adequate numbers of health care providers to carry out necessary programmes in Mali, of which nutrition programmes are a part. The policy and programme framework is well established for support of optimal IYCN practices, but greater resources and capacity building are needed to: (i) conduct necessary research to adapt training materials and programme protocols to programmatic needs; (ii) implement rigorous monitoring and evaluation that identify effective programme components; and (iii) apply these findings in developing, expanding, and improving effective programmes.

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    ABSTRACT: Progress towards reducing mortality and malnutrition among children <5 years of age has been less than needed to achieve related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Therefore, several international agencies joined to 'Reposition children's right to adequate nutrition in the Sahel', starting with an analysis of current activities related to infant and young child nutrition (IYCN). The main objectives of the situational analysis are to compile, analyse and interpret available information on infant and child feeding and the nutrition situation of children <2 years of age in Senegal, as one of the six targeted countries. These findings will be used to assist in identifying inconsistencies and filling gaps in current programming. Between August and December 2008, key informants responsible for conducting IYCN-related activities in Senegal were interviewed, and 157 documents were examined on the following themes: optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, prevention of micronutrient deficiencies, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, management of acute malnutrition, food security and hygienic practices. Nearly all of the key IYCN topics were addressed, specifically or generally, in national policy documents. Senegal reported substantial improvements since the 1990s towards reducing infant and young child mortality and underweight, and increasing exclusive breastfeeding among infants <6 months of age (34%). Senegal is one of the few countries in the region that is nearly on track for reaching related MDGs. Notable activities that may have played a role include: (1) vitamin A supplementation was expanded to nearly semi-annual national campaigns starting in 1994; (2) the Ministry of Health partnered with several national and international agencies to scale up child survival activities under the umbrella of the Basic Support for Institutionalizing Child Survival (1994-2006); (3) a national nutrition division was developed to support a national nutrition strengthening programme; (4) the national nutrition counsel was organized to coordinate nutritional activities across various organizations and governmental sectors, involving representatives from health, agriculture and surveillance; and (5) an integrated communications programme was developed to support harmonized behaviour change communication tools for the health and nutrition sectors. Along with these activities, a number of programme evaluations were conducted to ensure that programmes obtain desired results. Although useful, these evaluations were not rigorous enough to identify effective programmes that contributed to the mentioned reductions in the prevalence of underweight and mortality, and increases in exclusive breastfeeding. The policy and programme framework is well established for support of optimal IYCN practices in Senegal. Despite the recent improvements in infant and young child nutritional status indicators, there is still much to do. Greater resources and continued capacity building are needed to: (1) conduct necessary research for adapting training materials and programme protocols to programmatic needs; (2) improve and carry out monitoring and evaluation that identify effective programme components; and (3) apply these findings in developing, expanding and improving effective programmes.
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    ABSTRACT: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child holds governments responsible to ensure children's right to the highest attainable standard of health by providing breastfeeding support, and access to nutritious foods, appropriate health care, and clean drinking water. International experts have identified key child care practices and programmatic activities that are proven to be effective at reducing infant and young child undernutrition, morbidity, and mortality. Nevertheless, progress towards reducing the prevalence of undernutrition has been sporadic across countries of the Sahel sub-region of Sub-Saharan Africa. In view of this uneven progress, a working group of international agencies was convened to 'Reposition children's right to adequate nutrition in the Sahel.' The first step towards this goal was to organize a situational analysis of the legislative, research, and programmatic activities related to infant and young child nutrition (IYCN) in six countries of the sub-region: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. The purposes of this introductory paper are to review current information concerning the nutritional and health status of infants and young children in the Sahel and to summarize international guidelines on optimal IYCN practices. These guidelines were used in completing the above-mentioned situational analyses and encompass specific recommendations on: (i) breastfeeding (introduction within the first hour after birth, exclusivity to 6 months, continuation to at least 24 months); (ii) complementary feeding (introduction at 6 months, use of nutrient dense foods, adequate frequency and consistency, and responsive feeding); (iii) prevention and/or treatment of micronutrient deficiencies (vitamin A, zinc, iron and anaemia, and iodine); (iv) prevention and/or treatment of acute malnutrition; (v) feeding practices adapted to the maternal situation to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV; (vi) activities to ensure food security; and (vii) the promotion of hygienic practices concerning food preparation and storage and environmental sanitation. The following papers in this issue will present results of the situational analyses for the individual countries.
    Maternal and Child Nutrition 04/2011; 7 Suppl 1(s1):6-34. DOI:10.1111/j.1740-8709.2010.00306.x · 2.97 Impact Factor
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