Guinea-Bissau: Promotion of a multi-level approach to child malnutrition
Although Guinea-Bissau has made progress in reducing its child mortality rate, one in 7 children still die before reaching the age of 5 and more than a quarter of all children under 5 are stunted. The UN Joint Programme “Promotion of a multi-level approach to child malnutrition” aimed at reducing child malnutrition and mortality by improving the country's capacity to monitor and treat malnutrition and by promoting better nutrition and food practices.
The programme consisted of four approaches:
- Reinforcing the capacities of existing health and nutrition rehabilitation centres to treat malnourished children;
- Building the capacity of 150 communities in the most vulnerable areas to promote basic nutrition counselling and surveillance;
- Developing nutrition activities such as school gardens at 150 community schools to teach children good nutrition practices and ensure that they eat vegetables at least once a day; and
- Building the capacity of the Ministry of Health to effectively monitor nutritional activities at the local level.
Main achievements included:
- The management of acute malnutrition cases is being implemented in 24 nutrition rehabilitation and 94 health centers. 100% of beneficiary communities (150) trained community health workers (816 against 600 planned) in all three beneficiary regions in the early detection and prevention of stunting and other forms of malnutrition.
- 167 school gardens were established in beneficiary communities (against 150 initially planned) and 90% of school children are consuming vegetables produced in school once a day.
- The Ministry of Health improved its capacity to effectively monitor nutritional activities at the local level and can now provide updated data on nutritional status in the project area. A communication and advocacy strategy was implemented to raise awareness and increase citizen participation in MDG-related policies and practices, including partnerships with community radio, communities, regional authorities, teachers and citizens.
- The direct involvement of children and parents (especially mothers) in the cultivation of school gardens greatly increased awareness of horticulture among beneficiaries. This resulted in a growing interest among women's groups to use FAO’s support to grow vegetables in the schools for children.
- Nutrition trainings were held and led to some changes in behavior. UNICEF supported mothers’ groups in health centers to advise mothers on exclusive breastfeeding, provide explanations on food and hygiene, detect early signs of malnutrition and suggest visits to Health Centers in cases of malnutrition or pregnancy.
- Rates of exclusive breastfeeding significantly increased thanks to advocacy by mothers’ groups and breastfeeding support groups.
- The program equipped 94 health centers.
Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Guinea-Bissau (in French).