Determinants of high vitamin A supplementation coverage among pre-school children in Mali: the National Nutrition Weeks experience.
OBJECTIVES: To assess vitamin A supplementation (VAS) coverage of children aged 6-59 months and the factors that favour or limit this coverage during the National Nutrition Weeks in Mali.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study. Interviews about demographic factors and children’s adherence to the vitamin A capsule distribution programme were conducted. Professionals’ knowledge of vitamin A and various aspects related to the supplementation strategy were assessed.
SETTING: Five regions out of the eight regions in the country, in addition to Bamako District. Three rural communes were selected in three regions to represent rural areas.
SUBJECTS: Parents or caregivers of children under 5 years of age, health agents who participated in the weeks, and community and administrative leaders.
RESULTS: At least 80% of the children received the supplement. More ‘traditional’ communication channels (town criers, friends and family members) appeared to be more effective in reaching the target groups than modern methods, i.e. radio and television. Mothers’ possession of a radio (Pearson chi2 = 5.03; P = 0.025) and fathers’ education (Pearson chi2 = 19.02; P < 0.001), possession of a radio (Pearson chi2 = 8.93; P = 0.003) and listening to it (Pearson chi2 = 7.62; P = 0.006) all appeared to be statistically and significantly associated with children’s coverage. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, only the study site (urban/rural) (P = 0.004), ‘traditional channels’ (P = 0.02) and fathers’ education (P = 0.04) were significantly associated with children’s coverage. Knowledge about VAS was high among community and administrative leaders, and health professionals. The planning and implementation of activities at the district level were found to be good in general.
CONCLUSION: National Nutrition Weeks provide a successful example of a periodic VAS strategy with high coverage among children aged 6-59 months in Mali. Campaigns aimed at informing and sensitising populations during the Nutrition Weeks should also target children’s fathers.