Holistic approach needed to tackle severe acute malnutrition: study

The research presented real-life experiences and viewpoints of 47 healthcare providers and mothers through in-depth interviews from urban and rural locations

Updated - June 03, 2023 10:55 pm IST

Published - June 01, 2023 06:00 am IST - Bengaluru

There is a need for a holistic approach to tackle the problem of severe acute malnutrition, reveals a research study carried out by St. John’s Research Institute (SJRI) through funding received from Karnataka Biotechnology and Information Technology Services (KBITS).

The study, “Perceptions of healthcare providers and mothers on management and care of severely wasted children: a qualitative study in Karnataka” was conducted by Dr. Sumathi Swaminathan, associate professor, division of nutrition, Madhu Mitha Manivannan, senior research fellow, division of nutrition, and Manjulika Vaz, lecturer, division of health and Humanities, at SJRI between June 2018 and March 2019, in two districts, Raichur and Bengaluru Urban.

“The need for a holistic approach to tackle the problem of severe acute malnutrition was delineated through a study on perspectives on the management and care of severely wasted children aged six to 59 months, conducted in Karnataka, India,” said the researchers.

The research presented real-life experiences and viewpoints of 47 healthcare providers and mothers through in-depth interviews from urban and rural locations. The authors highlight the complex factors influencing severe malnutrition and the challenges faced in delivering effective care through the public health system.

Household poverty

“Household poverty emerged as a major systemic obstacle that hindered sustained implementation of interventions aimed at combating the condition. Additionally, it exposed a prevalent misconception that equated thinness with hereditary factors, normalizing wasting and further delaying the timely implementation of appropriate interventions,” the researchers added.

“Our findings underscore the urgent need for a holistic approach towards continuum of care of severely malnourished children in our public health system. By addressing systemic factors, enhancing communication between healthcare providers and caregivers, and implementing tailored interventions, we can make significant strides towards improving health outcomes and ensuring a brighter future for these vulnerable children,” said Dr. Swaminathan, principal investigator and senior author.

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