Understanding children’s nutritional status is important. Globally, nearly half of all deaths in children under five are caused by malnutrition . This is due to a lack of sufficient and nutritious food as well as a range of other factors such as healthcare, education, sanitation and hygiene.
Malnourished children are more likely to contract diseases such as diarrhoea, measles and other infections. These can lead to death, as well as a range of permanent mental and physical shortfalls.
In 1999 the World Health Organisation developed a strategy to tackle this global challenge. The aim was to improve the health and development of children under the age of five.
In line with this strategy South Africa’s Health Department introduced a system in 2011 to improve the way it measured children’s growth by including height measurements and recording their nutritional status. It distributed a booklet to clinics aimed at helping health care workers keep a track record of children’s health and development status.
Our study looked at South Africa’s response to the Road to Health Booklet to see how well it was being used by health care workers and caregivers. We conducted the survey in 140 health care facilities in South Africa’s Western Cape province. ….more