Assessing Early Childhood Nutritional Practices in Rural Uganda


OBJECTIVE: According to the 2011 Uganda Nutrition Action Plan, 40 per cent of children under the age of five are malnourished. As local healthcare leaders identify childhood malnutrition as an ongoing problem in the rural village of Nakaseke, Uganda, this study aimed to assess early childhood nutritional practices in Nakaseke, and to identify barriers to healthy nutritional practices in order to create sustainable interventions.
METHODS: Data was collected using seven focus groups with a total of 46 participants including community health workers, village health teams, and community members. The interviews were conducted in Luganda using a translator, and were audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for common themes.
RESULTS: General poverty and lack of knowledge were identified as two major barriers to healthy nutritional practices in the community. Poverty left many homes unable to afford certain nutrition–rich foods, an issue compounded by the lack of family planning resulting in large families. A general lack of knowledge contributed to the inappropriate cessation of breastfeeding and the improper introduction of complementary foods, and was due in part to a lack of proper education.
CONCLUSION: This study identified a continued need for education on nutrition within the community. With a better understanding of current practices and beliefs, we can now collaborate with the community to create sustainable interventions to address their specific needs while taking into account their financial restraints.

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Cheng V, Charman E, Pastorek C, Hedges T, Kapoor V. Assessing Early Childhood Nutritional Practices in Rural Uganda. UBCMJ. 2014; 6(1):29-37.