Madda H. Magbity, Seiuli Vaifou Temese, Alovale Sa’u, Safua Akeli, Penelope Schoeffel and Mohammed Sahib, Centre for Sāmoan Studies, National University of Sāmoa
Sāmoa has a double burden of malnutrition; obesity associated with the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, and continuing cases of underweight children presenting at hospitals and health centres. A knowledge, attitude and practice survey of mothers/caregivers of young children in eight villages in four representative regions of Sāmoa was completed in November 2015. The objective of the research was to learn whether international (WHO, UNICEF) and government recommended feeding practices were promoted by district health workers and understood and practiced by mothers or caregivers of children under five years of age. The survey found that while key messages on infant feeding are generally well understood by nurses in the district health centres serving these villages, the knowledge and practices of mothers and other infant caregivers appears somewhat deficient. Most of them understood the importance of breast feeding but only 56 percent of mothers and caretakers know that complementary foods should be introduced, as recommended, at six months of age; 28 percent of the caretakers thought that during the weaning period, solid food given once a day was sufficient, and that only small minority took their infants to health centres for growth monitoring. These findings suggest that there is a case for the reintroduction of monthly village-based maternal and child health clinics in cooperation with village women’s committees.
Keywords: Child healthcare, infant feeding practices, malnutrition, breast feeding.