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Open Access Public health interventions, barriers, and opportunities for improving maternal nutrition in Northeast Nigeria

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Background. Efficacious strategies to improve maternal nutrition and subsequent maternal, neonatal, and child health exist, but their utilization and application at scale is limited.

Objective. This study explored the gaps, barriers, and opportunities for maternal nutrition policy and programming in Nigeria, a country with a disproportionate share of the global burden of maternal and child mortality

Methods. Research was conducted in three phases in four Local Government Authorities in Taraba State. Phase 1 consisted of a desk review of policies, programs, and sociodemographic and health indicators pertinent to maternal nutrition. In-depth interviews were conducted with key informants in state and local ministries of health as well as international nongovernmental organizations and community- and faith-based organizations. Phase 2 utilized in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with community leaders, health promoters, and mothers. Phase 3 consisted of key informant interviews with federal policy and program leaders in government ministries and nongovernmental organizations.

Results. Nutrition, especially maternal nutrition, is not prioritized and is poorly funded in both the governmental and the nongovernmental systems. Perceived weak advocacy for nutrition and its role in economic development and the lack of coordination among governmental and nongovernmental actors were said to contribute to low prioritization. Dependence on health facilities as the primary platform for delivering maternal nutrition is problematic, given severe resource constraints and perceived community barriers, including cost, distance, and poor quality of care.

Conclusions. Advocacy for maternal nutrition that improves understanding of its consequences for health and economic development could hasten prioritization, coordination, and investment in maternal nutrition at the national, state, and local levels. Innovative, multisectoral strategies that move beyond facility-based platforms are needed to reduce the burden of maternal undernutrition in Northeast Nigeria.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106

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