Childhood Health Advice, Nutrition, and Growth, Ethiopia
MONTHLY GROWTH MONITORING │ HEALTH ASSESSMENTS
At present, there is no regular, widespread monitoring of growth or nutrition for the under-5 population, with children only attending health facilities if their caregivers identify a problem. As with many elements of public health, the most effective means of ensuring good health and wellbeing is prevention, not treatment.
The programme will encourage monthly growth monitoring of all children in the catchment area, issuing caregivers with growth charts to be kept at the Clinic. There will be an initial assessment of each child attending, determining their height, weight, general health status, and development. This will be followed by offering a deworming course, and a single dose of Vitamin A (as is currently offered to all under-5s in neighbouring Kenya). Following this, an appointment for a month’s time will be offered. This screening and assessment will allow the nurses at the Clinic to identify children who are either starting below the ideal parameters for their age, or who are slipping over the coming months. Early identification will also facilitate early intervention, with weaning health information and toddler food education offered to each woman. The Clinic is also able to provide both PlumpyNut and ORS (oral rehydration) sachets for children identified at risk.
As well as growth and nutrition, this monthly assessment will also be able to further identify children with health concerns that may not have raised alarm bells with their caregivers so far, i.e. one or two days each week of diarrhoea that quickly resolves, but when patterns are identified, might signify an underlying issue that can then be addressed, i.e. is the water used to prepare food being properly boiled.
Lastly, the project aims to identify children at risk of becoming malnourished, and to intervene before it becomes a medically significant issue. It will do so by offering food coupons for the family in question in conjunction with a local shop.