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Barriers to the uptake of nutritional services among adolescent girls from rural communities in Tigray region, Ethiopia

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Research snapshot1

Considerable nutritional problems attributed to an inadequate diet continue to lead to poor health status among adolescents. In Ethiopia, adolescent girls from rural settings, from larger family sizes and with unprotected water sources for drinking and food insecure households are at greater risk of undernutrition. In most resource limited settings, community-based nutrition initiatives mainly focus on preventing malnutrition in women and children, thus neglecting adolescents. This study aims to explore the range of barriers for the uptake of nutrition interventions among adolescent girls in the rural communities of the Tigray region in Northern Ethiopia where 26.5% adolescents are stunted and 58.3% are thin.  This explorative qualitative study was conducted in five districts, purposively selected based on their food security status. Focus group discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews with in-school and out-of-school-adolescent girls were conducted until researchers reached the saturation level of qualitative data.  

Overall, a total of 98 participants took part in the study through 11 FGDs with adolescent girls (six in-school and five out-of-school) and 17 in-depth interviews (seven with teachers, seven with in-school adolescent girls and three with out-of-school adolescent girls). Data from each FGD was transcribed before the next to enable the inclusion of emerging insights into the semi-structured guide for subsequent FGDs.

Stunting, anaemia and thinness were among the main perceived nutritional problems among adolescent girls. Barriers for the uptake of adolescent girls' nutrition interventions were found to be food insecurity, limited nutrition awareness in the community, limited access to a water source, high workload, service provider's lack of attention to adolescents' nutrition and cultural taboos around foods.

Although limited in reach, available nutrition interventions include awareness creation, nutritional supplementation and disease prevention. Multi-sectoral responses are required to address the range of challenges including food security and water, sanitation and hygiene barriers that prevent adolescents from accessing nutrition services in resource limited settings such as those in rural areas of Ethiopia.

 

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Endnotes

1 Kahsay, A., Gebregziabher, H., Hadush, Z., Yemane, D., Hailemariam, A., and Mulugeta, A. (2020). Exploration of Barriers to the Uptake of Nutritional Services Among Adolescent Girls from the Rural Communities of Tigray Region, Northern Ethiopia: A Qualitative Study. Adolescent health, medicine and therapeutics11, 157–171.

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Barriers to the uptake of nutritional services among adolescent girls from rural communities in Tigray region, Ethiopia. Field Exchange 64, January 2021. p78. www.ennonline.net/fex/64/barriersnutritionservicesadolescents

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