Amélioration de la qualité de l’alimentation de complément des enfants de 6-23 mois de par la fortification à domicile en vue de contribuer à la réduction l’anémie chez les enfants camerounais
(Home Fortification with Micronutrient Powders to address Micronutrient Deficiencies among Children 6-23 months in Cameroon)
UNICEF Cameroon (2012 – present)
Although Cameroon has made several advances in recent years in the improvement of health care and food security, chronic malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in children under age 5 remains a public health concern. According to the Cameroon Demographic Health Survey (DHS, 2011), 122/1000 die without reaching their 5th birthday, with more than 1/3 of malnutrition being the underlying factor in 1/3 of these deaths. The prevalence of stunting in children age 5 is 33%, 15% are underweight, and 6% suffer from acute malnutrition (DHS 2011). Stunting is a consequence of early childhood undernutrition and reflects multiple nutritional deficiencies and infections, which occur during the first two years of life, and is associated with permanent cognitive and physical impairment. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are also highly prevalent among children in Cameroon. It is estimated that 60% of children under age 5 are affected by iron deficiency anaemia, and 40% of children from 12-59 months are vitamin A deficient. Anaemic children have a lowered capacity for attention, understanding and logical reasoning than children who are not anaemic. This greatly affects their ability to learn and their school performance which ultimately impacts adult productivity.
The Government of Cameroon has implemented several strategies to combat undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, however, none of the current strategies have specifically targeted iron deficiency anemia in children aged 6-23 months. Micronutrient fortification of industrially manufactured staple foods is regarded as the most cost effective approach to improving the population’s vitamin and mineral status, but this strategy is not considered adequate for the high needs of young children. Access to fortified complementary food for young children in Cameroon is out of reach for most families. Therefore this project has been developed in collaboration with the government and key stakeholders in order to target vulnerable children during the key first ‘1000 Days’ of life when their cognitive and physical development may be permanently impacted.
The objectives of the acceptability trial were:
- To assess the feasibility and acceptability of MNP for home fortification in rural communities in Cameroon;
- To develop and pilot a culturally appropriate protocol for MNP to be integrated with current IYCF programs; and
- To develop a MNP communication strategy for caregivers, health professionals, and decision-makers.
The main objective was to inform planning and logistics for the second phase of the community-based Home Fortification programme. This has been done through the gathering of relevant and current information on technical, cultural, financial factors and human resources that may facilitate or hamper the implementation of the MNP programme in the North region of Cameroon.