Yesterday, we reported on the critical 1,000-day window that begins with a woman’s pregnancy and continues until a child is 2 years old. Today, we share examples of how ChildFund nutrition and health education programs are helping ensure that infants get a healthy start on life.
Honduras: With ChildFund assistance, community mothers have formed support groups to track children’s growth monthly. When a child is not achieving growth benchmarks, the mothers respond quickly, changing nutrition practices or taking the child to a ChildFund-supported health hut for medical care. They are stopping undernutrition before it permanently affects children’s health.
Kenya and Ethiopia: Malnourished children who are orphaned or otherwise vulnerable due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic receive food supplements through ChildFund initiatives funded by PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). Families receive support through home-based services, including regular home visits from community-based organizations and volunteers.
India and Indonesia: ChildFund works with mothers of moderately malnourished children to help them improve feeding practices through culturally sensitive programming provided in Positive Deviance/Hearth groups. The groups also provide preventive health education.
Senegal: During monthly sessions with mothers at health huts, ChildFund community health workers promote healthy growth among children 2 and under. Mothers of malnourished children receive intensive counseling and follow-up, and their children are referred to local health posts for medical treatment and food supplements. ChildFund Senegal leads a consortium of development organizations to provide these services throughout the country.
Bolivia: Working with the Bolivia Ministry of Health (MOH), ChildFund carefully monitors and supports children during their first two years of life to ensure normal growth and development. Community-based health workers visit mothers in their homes to reinforce effective feeding practices and to educate mothers about culturally appropriate development stimulation. The MOH provides medical care as well as food supplements and micro-nutrient “sprinkles” to malnourished children.
Ongoing research: ChildFund recently forged a partnership with the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health to improve the lives and health of vulnerable children from birth to age two. The Innovation Lab will develop and test an evidence-based program in two countries that can be scaled up globally. Peggy Bentley, Ph.D., nutrition professor and associate dean for global health at the school, will lead the program. Cyril Engmann, M.D., neonatologist in UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics and adjunct assistant professor of maternal and child health at the public health school, is co-principal investigator for the lab. Additional faculty with expertise in safe water and sanitation, child development, injury and violence prevention, implementation science, curriculum development, breastfeeding and weaning, and monitoring and evaluation will contribute expertise.
Through these programs and more, ChildFund is keeping a close watch on children’s first 1,000 days. Improving child nutrition is a critical component of the overall Millennium Development Goals to reverse poverty by 2015.