Prevention of malnutrition in South Africa among children

University essay from Sophiahemmet Högskola

Abstract: Background Malnutrition among children in South Africa is a substantial public health problem. Especially young children are vulnerable and exposed to malnutrition. Children suffering from malnutrition develop many short- and long-term health-consequences. Effective preventative work against this issue is crucial in order for malnutrition to diminish among the children in South Africa. Aim The aim was to describe how the preventative work against malnutrition is being performed among children aged zero to six in South Africa. Method The method used in this study was a qualitative descriptive study with six semi-structured interviews. Interviews were performed with registered nurses and researchers. The interview-data was analyzed based on a grounded theory through substantive coding where the most relevant codes where found, studied and concluded in the results. Results The results showed that both the registered nurses and researchers considered socioeconomic-factors and lack of knowledge about nutrition to be the most important causes for malnutrition among children, and also impacted heavily on the preventative work. It was found that more effective preventative work is needed, but for this to work it needs to be adapted to the social context in the country. Conclusions The preventative work against malnutrition must be able to break through socioeconomic barriers like poverty, misguided cultural beliefs about nutrition, lacking food security and the fact that many mothers to children are HIV positive, which also is strongly connected to malnutrition among young children. Education about nutrition must be further developed and reach out to more people in the country.

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