Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The effect of a community nutrition project in improving child malnutrition in Laos

Associate Professor Andre Renzaho co-authored a paper in 2014 with researchers from the Burnet Institute and the Institute of Public Health in Laos to determine the efficacy of a community level nutrition strategy which intended to lessen malnutrition/wasting in youth within Laos. 

The paper makes note of previous research indicating that Laos is categorised as a food-deficit, low-income country with 6% of youth being deemed as severely malnourished. Furthermore, there has been little change to the number of children who are underweight, regardless of the economic development within Laos. 
Therefore, the researchers instigated an intervention within the Savannakhet region of Laos across twelve different villages to minimise the percentage of children who were malnourished. 

This was to be implemented via the promotion of good feeding behaviours, child diets and through maintaining observation of child development. Groups of volunteers were employed within each village in order to undertake these activities alongside a committee who initiated a monthly outreach program to deliver primary health services and to evaluate the development of the children.

Prior to the strategy implementation, the study conducted a cross-sectional assessment with a random sample of 60% of households with the post assessment examining all participants involved within the study. Through these sampling methods, the results indicated that malnutrition decreased from 12.4% before implementation to 6.1%. Furthermore, poor feeding practices improved, with 72% of women breastfeeding their new born child in 2011, this having improved from 40% in 2008.

The study concludes that the community level intervention has been successful in minimising the number of children who are malnourished within the communities and has seen a positive effect within the spectrum of maternal care and feeding practices.

Read the full study here:

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