Strengthening iron folate supplementation of pregnant women in Ntchisi District, Malawi

Museka-Saidi, T.M., Mlambo, T.T., Aburto, N. and Keith, R. 2018. Strengthening iron folate supplementation of pregnant women in Ntchisi District, Malawi. World Nutrition. 9 (3), pp. 254-260. https://doi.org/10.26596/wn.201893254-260

TitleStrengthening iron folate supplementation of pregnant women in Ntchisi District, Malawi
TypeJournal article
AuthorsMuseka-Saidi, T.M., Mlambo, T.T., Aburto, N. and Keith, R.
Abstract

While an estimated 45% of pregnant women in Malawi are anaemic, only 33% take iron tablets for a minimum of 90 days during pregnancy. The study explored the capacity of health facilities and communities to strengthen antenatal iron folate supplementation in Ntchisi, to support the achievement of Malawi’s nutrition target on halving anaemia in women of reproductive age by 2025.

This qualitative study employed systematic random and purposeful sampling. Eight Focus Group Discussions with mothers of children 0-23 months, eight with Care Group volunteers and eight in-depth interviews with Village Health Workers (Health Surveillance Assistants) were conducted in each village falling within the catchment area of each of 8 health facilities. Health facilities had been sampled each from the 7 Traditional Authorities with the district hospital and direct observations had been conducted at each for antenatal care service delivery. 10 key informants from the health facilities and the District Health Office were interviewed. Thus a total of 16 FGDs, 8 HSA interviews, and 10 key informant interviews provided the data analysed in this paper. Data were analysed manually using thematic framework analysis.

Poor access to and follow up of antenatal care at the health facility has limited access to iron folate supplements, as the health facility is the main source of Iron folates. Recurrent depletion of stock of iron folate were reported by mothers at most health facilities. Consumer demand for the tablets was low due to side effects, poor acceptability, associated myths, forgetfulness and frustration from having to take a daily medication. There was limited training and education materials at the health facility and community with inadequate support given to women. The absence of clear policies and guidelines on iron folate supplementation resulted in inconsistencies in messaging. Uptake and adherence were not routinely monitored.

There is a need to improve the main building blocks of the iron folate programme, including the: delivery system, tablet supply, patient education, consumer demand, monitoring and evaluation and policy

KeywordsIron Folate Supplementation, Pregnancy, Programming, Health System, anemia, maternal nutrition, adherence, iron deficiency, Malawi, qualitative research, focus group discussions
JournalWorld Nutrition
Journal citation9 (3), pp. 254-260
ISSN2041-9775
Year2018
PublisherOpen Journal Systems
Publisher's version
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26596/wn.201893254-260
Web address (URL)https://worldnutritionjournal.org/index.php/wn/article/view/605
Publication dates
Published29 Dec 2018

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