Improving Nutrition Through Research

|

From the 2012 Annual Report:

Guatemala has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in the western hemisphere. Since its inception, one of Wuqu’ Kawoq | Maya Health Alliance’s (WK) central goals has been improving child health through nutrition programming. Studies have repeatedly proven that early nutritional intervention can make a world of difference in socioeconomic and health outcomes as a child grows up. For this reason WK emphasizes nutritional supplementation and growth monitoring within our comprehensive
primary care programs for children. Our child nutrition programming reaches thousands of Maya families in the highlands and on the coast, and we are dedicated to continually adapting and improving the services we offer to meet the needs of these communities.

In order to evaluate and further develop our child nutrition programs, this year, WK partnered with Edesia, Inc. and Nutriset to study caregivers’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices concerning infant and young children’s feeding. We gained significant insights into local understandings of vitamins and fortified foods, social dynamics affecting dietary diversity, and experiences of food security through focus groups and structured interviews.

We also developed an appreciation for food purchasing behaviors and local food availability through conducting interviews and food inventories with owners of small stores. One of the most valuable parts of this project involved formal interviews with our local field staff and community leaders, who provided us with important feedback about our programs as well as strategies for offering nutritional education through community meetings, women’s group discussions, and household visits.

We are pleased to announce that data analysis for this project is complete, and a detailed report will be available on our website shortly. Key findings included significant differences between men’s and women’s understandings of child malnutrition and community-wide desires for educational home visits, among many others. Accordingly, WK is planning for a major expansion of its nutritional education programs in 2013 in order to address these needs and to better empower parents to care for their children.