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Implementing policies & programmes for small and nutritionally at-risk infants u6m and their mothers, from a UNICEF perspective: a key informant qualitative study

Author: Michelle Alvarez
Year: 2021
Resource type: Report

Background: Approximately 4.7 million children under six months of age (u6m) suffer from wasting globally. However, few studies support the efforts for the early identification and treatment of this age group and their mothers. UNICEF supports the revision of global guidelines for the early detection and treatment of children with wasting. For this reason, it is essential to explore UNICEF's core views and perceptions on policy development and implementation.

Aim: To inform forthcoming UNICEF policy and programming on the management of small and nutritionally at-risk infants under six months and their mothers in LMIC.

Methods: In this qualitative study, UNICEF key informants from different Country and Regional Offices filled an online survey and were interviewed using a topic guide with semi-structured probe questions. Participants were recruited using purposive and snowball sampling and interviews were done through Zoom. After obtaining the participant's consent, the researcher recorded and transcribed each session to carry out a framework thematic analysis.

Results: A total of 16 in-depth interviews were conducted. The study showed that all participants acknowledged the gaps in the early identification and treatment of vulnerable infants u6m and their mothers, recognizing that they are often overlooked in most programmes. The main barriers identified were technical (suboptimal capacity), organizational (lack of funding), and contextual (socio-cultural characteristics). Participants highlighted the opportunities that exist and the role of UNICEF in supporting data generation, funding, advocacy, and providing technical support to integrate MAMI in the current policies, guidelines, and platforms, including IYCF, CMAM and IMCI programmes.

Conclusion: Key informants were aware of the current gaps, barriers and opportunities that exist to target infants u6m and their mothers. However, further research is needed to inform the creation of integrative approaches and strengthen the quality of actions towards managing small and nutritionally at-risk infants u6m and their mothers.

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

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Michelle Alvarez (2021). Implementing policies & programmes for small and nutritionally at-risk infants u6m and their mothers, from a UNICEF perspective: a key informant qualitative study. www.ennonline.net/implementingpoliciesprogrammesformami-report

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