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Carers’ knowledge of treatment of severe acute malnutrition at Dadaab refugee complex, Kenya: A prospective cohort study

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Research snapshot1

Research shows that carers’ lack of understanding on the nature of treatment may contribute to poor adherence to treatment modalities. In response to the high prevalence of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in emergency contexts and related mortality in children under the age of five years in refugee camps, this study was conducted to fill an evidence gap by describing carers’ knowledge of treatment of SAM in a refugee setting.

A prospective cohort study of 128 children aged 6 to 59 months and their carers was carried out at the Ifo I and Hagadera refugee camps, two large camps (100,000 plus predominantly Somalian nationals) in Garissa County, Kenya. Over a three-month period, 22 child-carer pairs were selected from the stabilisation centre (SC) and 42 from the outpatient therapeutic feeding programme (OTFP) at each camp and followed up until the child met the discharge criteria. A carer’s knowledge was assessed by the administration of a questionnaire in the early days of admission. None of the 128 children enrolled defaulted.  

More than 70% of carers participating in the SC programme in both camps and over one third of those whose children were treated at OTFP were unable to say how long their children’s treatment would last. Few carers from the Hagadera OTFP (n=7; 16%) knew the correct frequency of prescribed therapeutic feeds while a majority from Ifo did (n=31; 72%). In both OTFPs, less than half of the carers fed their children strictly as per prescribed therapeutic feeds. There was a significant relationship between carers’ level of education and their knowledge of the frequency of therapeutic feeds in both the SC programme and the OTFP at both refugee camps. The reasons given for keeping a malnourished child warm during cold weather were quite diverse among carers from the two camps in both programmes.

Carers have a critical role to play in managing acute malnutrition in community-based programmes; carers from refugee camps in Kenya showed room for improvement in their knowledge of SAM treatment.

 

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Endnotes

1 Mbogo AM, van Niekerk E, Ogada I, Schübl C. (2020) Carers’ knowledge of treatment of severe acute malnutrition at Dadaab refugee complex Kenya: A prospective cohort study. South African Journal of Child Health. September 2020, vol 14, no. 3.

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Carers’ knowledge of treatment of severe acute malnutrition at Dadaab refugee complex, Kenya: A prospective cohort study. Field Exchange 64, January 2021. p73. www.ennonline.net/fex/64/samcarersknowledgekenya

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