|Effective Communications for Nutrition in Primary Health Care (UNU, 1988, 208 p.)|
|Country and project reports|
Nutrition Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services, Bangalore, India
Recognizing the interdisciplinary nature of nutritional problems, a national programme called the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme has been developed. Package services, including supplementary food, immunization, nutrition and health education, health and referral services, and non-formal education have been formulated and provided.
Currently, the existing primary health-care infrastructure at the block level is making use of nutrition communications. Paramedical workers and female health assistants/health workers play an important role, and are supervised and guided by district-level health officers. Face-toface communications by informal talks, for example among women, are most widely used. Radio, newspaper, and, to a limited extent, television have been utilized.
A unique effort is being made in Karnataka State, where systematic education activities have been developed. A unit was formed consisting of a nutrition officer, a health education expert, and a paramedical worker at the district level. The unit plans the education activities, with particular emphasis on supplementary foods for infants and proper diets during pregnancy and lactation. Training, teaching aids, and all communication activities were identified, and involvement of all health services and various agencies has been encouraged. Small research studies on several little-known communication systems were suggested.
It is recognized that changing food habits is a slow process and proper planning of systematic delivery of information is crucial. As India is a vast country, with different languages, cultural practices, and social values, the communication systems should be developed to suit individual communities.
A systematic, realistic programme of education is required and community involvement and participation must be encouraged. Well-trained personnel, proper supervision, guidance, and reliable documentation are all essential elements for successful nutrition education.