This week sees the launch of the first fieldwork period for the Botswana Infant Nutrition Project, which has been at the planning stage for many months. PhD student Paphani Chalashika will be flying out to Botswana at the end of this week and is expected to be there for 3-4 months.
Like all countries in sub-Saharan Africa Botswana has a major problem with malnutrition among the under fives. Malnutrition is a major contributor to death and infectious disease. The Botswanan government is active in targeting malnutrition and has in place a process for monitoring child growth and nutritional status and for intervention where food insecurity and malnutrition are identified. However, the delivery of such services may differ substantially between urban and rural communities and the high prevalence of HIV infection is a further complication in achieving uniform and successful strategies for combatting malnutrition.
The Botswana Infant Nutrition Project is initially focusing on addressing the following research questions:
- What is the prevalence of stunting, wasting and underweight in HIV-exposed and non-HIV exposed infants?
- What is the relationship between stunting, wasting or underweight with identified factors such as; Infant’s characteristics: HIV exposure, age, gender, birth weight, birth length, Apgar score, Developmental delay. Mother’s characteristics: age at birth, educational level, employment status, income, marital status. Household characteristics: availability of electricity, water source, toilet type, main source of fuel. Diarrhoea frequency. Frequency of use of Government fortified cereal. Number of siblings
- What is the nutritional intake (energy, protein) in HIV-exposed and non-HIV exposed infants?
- How effective is the Child Welfare Clinic Card (CWCC) as a child health data collection tool?
Paphani will be recruiting mothers and infants in Francistown, Kgatleng, Selebi Phikwe and Kweneng East working through hospital clinics, health posts and mobile health stops.