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Perception of infant Health & Nutrition and Determinants of Health Seeking Behaviour in Ethiopia: A Systematic Review

Author: Joana Hebil
Year: 2019
Resource type: Report

Background: Despite progress, undernutrition remains a public health concern featured under the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The major reason why undernutrition matters is because of its strong link to morbidity and mortality. Due to greater physiological fragility and susceptibility to infections, severely wasted young infants are at a higher risk of mortality than older infants and children. Globally, a total of 8.5 million infants are acute malnourished. Infants <6 month are a special age subgroup for several reasons and there are numerous causes for the extra challenge involved in the management of this age group. Ethiopia is among the countries in the world with a high prevalence of neonatal morbidity and mortality and the causes are driven by a range of socio-economic, political and demographic factors. The objective is to explore and understand health seeking behaviour and identify infant health perceptions. This project is important because it is vital to rely on published literature on the topic in this setting in order to bring about determined changes in the field. 

Methods: A systematic search was performed in Medline, Embase and Global Health selected keywords and MeSH terms. Quantitative and qualitative studies that reported perceptions of <6 months infant’s health by mothers/caregivers, communities, facilitators of health seeking behaviour and barriers in Ethiopia were included. Collected data was analysed and synthesised using the Social-Ecological Model. 

Results: A total of 17 studies (7 for health seeking behaviour, 5 for Infant health perception and 5 mixed) were included in the review. Prevalence of health seeking in infants <6 months is low in Ethiopia. Some of the barriers in health seeking and poor infant health and practices were linked to knowledge of infant health, PNC attendance, cost, transportation, lack of information, scarce services/facilities and traditional/religious influences. 

Conclusion: Although there are barriers and other factors that constitute resistance that hampers effective interventions and pragmatism, infant health education should be bolstered and routinely positively reinforced among caregivers, families and communities.

This research was carried out as a final project for the MSc Nutrition for Global Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

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Joana Hebil (2019). Perception of infant Health & Nutrition and Determinants of Health Seeking Behaviour in Ethiopia: A Systematic Review. www.ennonline.net/hebilprojectreportethiopia

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