|Effective Communications for Nutrition in Primary Health Care (UNU, 1988, 208 pages)|
|Country and project reports|
Tirtha Rana and Nanda M. Sthapit
Health Education Section, Kathmandu, Nepal
Malnutrition is particularly prevalent in the age group from 6 to 36 months in Nepal. Lack of knowledge on how to use available foods, very low literacy and a high workload among women, the maintenance of food taboos, and destructive cultural practices lead to poor weaning and young-child-feeding practices.
A nutrition education programme is being conducted through various peripheral level workers. Emphasis is given to promoting breast-feeding, making weaning foods from locally available and family foods, proper feeding of sick babies, use of oral rehydration for children with diarrhoea, provision of growth charts for monitoring child development, immunization, improvement of personal and environmental hygiene, and teaching what foods are best for pregnant and lactating women.
The media used by these health workers are flash cards, posters, flip charts, and brochures. Various training manuals have been developed for different levels of workers. Growth is monitored by arm-circumference measurement. Food demonstrations and home-visit demonstrations on the preparation of oral rehydration fluid and weaning foods have been conducted. Radio spots, programmes, and film shows, as well as training workshops, have been developed by health and nutrition offices. The Ministry of Agriculture is involved in the local development of food provisions, preparation, processing, and preservation, while the Ministry of Education provides health and nutrition education through the formal education system up to the graduate and postgraduate level. Non-governmental agencies, both national and international, have been actively engaged in strengthening nutrition training and communications.
Areas for future research have been suggested, including evaluation of the ongoing communications programmes, development of simple training materials for large-scale use, strengthening of the communication links at the peripheral levels, and production of appropriate audio-visual aids to support nutrition activities.