Development of nutrition education material for caregivers of immune compromised children in children's homes in the Durban area
Grobbelaar, Hendrina Helena
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Nutrition plays a fundamental role in the care and support of people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and children in particular are affected by HIV and the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic in Africa in various ways. The epidemic puts children at risk physically, psychologically and economically. Children are indirectly affected by HIV and AIDS when the epidemic has a negative impact on their communities and the services these communities provide. Undernutrition is a major problem in HIV-positive children in South Africa with severe malnutrition as a common finding in HIV-positive children. HIV contributes to an increased incidence and severity of undernutrition and micronutrient deficiency. Low serum levels of vitamins A, E, B6, B12 and C, betacarotene, selenium, zinc, copper and iron deficiencies are frequently documented during all stages of HIV-infection. Malnutrition in turn further weakens the immune system which increases the susceptibility to infections and the duration and the severity of infections. Thus, the immune response is less effective and less vigorous when an individual is undernourished. Although guidelines exist for the treatment and management of HIV-infected children, it is clear from the literature that exceptional measures are needed to ensure the health and well-being of the children are met. Furthermore, residential care should not only be considered as a last resort for children’s care, but also as an intervention that requires more than merely addressing children’s basic physical needs. Nutrition education has been utilised globally and in South Africa to address nutrition related problems. The main purpose of nutrition education is to provide individuals with adequate and accurate information, skills and motivation to buy, produce and consume the correct foods to stay healthy and lead an active life. Aim The purpose of this study was to develop reliable and valid nutrition education material for the child care workers (CCWs) of Immune Compromised children vi resident in Children’s Homes in the Durban area in order to maintain the child’s immune system and to optimise their quality of life. Methodology The FAO framework used for planning, implementing and evaluating a nutrition education programme was followed to develop the nutrition education material in this study. Phase I included a situational analysis of the children homes involved. The residential care settings that participated in this study included three Children’s Homes in Durban. The total purposive sample included: boys (5–19 years) n = 112, girls (5–19 years) n = 38 and CCWs n = 40. The sample of HIV-positive children included boys (5–19 years) n = 3 and girls (5– 19 years) n = 6. The physical measurements obtained for this study to determine nutritional status were weight and height. The anthropometric measurements were captured and analysed by the researcher using the World Health Organisation’s AnthroPlus version 1.0.2. Statistical software. The following indices were included: height-for-age (stunting), weight-for-age (underweight) and BMI-for-age (overweight and wasting). The WHO growth standards for school-aged children and adolescents were used to compare the anthropometric indicators. Dietary intake measurements were done by analysing the cycle menus by means of the Food Finder® Version 3 computer software program and comparing the results with the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), specifically the EAR and AI where the EAR were not available. The data were analysed to determine the adequacy of energy and nutrient intake. Average portion sizes were established by the plate waste studies method as well as observation of practices, interviews with the central buyer and focus group discussions with the CCWs. Nutrition knowledge of the CCWs was determined by a self-administered questionnaire developed and tested for reliability and validity. The problems identified in Phase I through the implementation of the questionnaires and other methods directed the design of messages in Phase II. Once suitable media was selected, nutrition education material was developed based on existing guidelines pertaining to HIV and AIDS. The material developed was then tested for reliability and validity before it was produced. vii Results The anthropometric measurements indicated that the majority of the HIV-negative boys and girls were of normal height-for-age and weight-for-age. The results also showed that possible risk of overweight and overweight were more prevalent in girls whereas underweight was more prevalent in boys. Furthermore, the results indicated that a third (33.0%) of the HIV-positive children were stunted and 16.7% was severely stunted. Findings of the menu analysis indicated that both girls and boys consumed three times more carbohydrates than the recommended intake. The DRIs for girls and boys were met for energy and protein in all the age groups except boys aged 14-18 years did not meet the DRI for energy. However, the comparison of the actual intake of the macro nutrients with the WHO guidelines indicated that the protein (10.78%) and carbohydrate (58.07%) is within the recommendations of 10- 15% and 55–75% respectively. This comparison also showed that the total fat intake of 31.15% was above the recommended intake of 15-30%. None of the age groups met the DRIs for fibre. The comparison of the intake with the WHO guidelines also indicated that the total dietary fibre intake was only 19.67g/day and not 27–40g/day. The actual fruit and vegetable intake was a mere 68.64g/day instead of 400g/day as recommended. None of the groups met the DRIs for calcium and iodine. The results clearly showed that micro nutrient inadequacies were more prevalent in the dietary intake of age groups 9-13 and 14-18 years in both girls and boys. Inadequate intake of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenate, biotin, vitamin E and vitamin K were evident in the age group 14-18 year. Overall, it is evident from the results on nutrition knowledge that although the respondents’ knowledge was fair on general nutrition guidelines, the results of the nutrition knowledge questionnaire indicated that knowledge on the importance of a variety in the diet is lacking. The CCWs displayed a very poor knowledge of the recommended number of fruit and vegetable portions per day as well as correct serving sizes of vegetable portions. A very poor knowledge also existed regarding the role of healthy eating in maintaining and supporting the immune system and a limited knowledge on correct hygiene practices was noted. The fridge magnets developed included five messages relating to nutrition and four messages relating to food safety and hygiene. viii Conclusion This study established that malnutrition is apparent in the children’s homes and that there were many gaps in the nutrition knowledge of the CCWs. These gaps included the role of good nutrition in the support and maintenance of the immune system and the importance of adequate intake of fruit and vegetables daily. The NEM developed in this study will address these gaps.