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Community-focused study highlights how to improve child nutrition


Community-focused study highlights how to improve child nutrition

UK researchers have worked with collaborators in India to design a series of community-focused methods to improve child nutrition.

The interventions developed in the PANChSHEEEL study can be used by households, communities, health and education organisations and government and include teaching people about feeding practices and nutrition for a child’s first 1,001 days, links to infection, hygiene and sanitation guidance such as hand-washing, and waste management.

The study was funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Medical Research Council and the Global Challenges Research Fund, and was a collaboration between UCL, Save the Children, Jawarharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

UKRI Executive Champion for International, Professor Andrew Thompson, said: “We know from experience that the best way to deliver sustainable change is to bring together global research expertise alongside local organisations and community groups who have direct experience of the challenges on the ground.

“It’s why the UK government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, jointly delivered by UKRI, was established; to enable truly inclusive, interdisciplinary research which draws on the experience and knowledge of community groups as well as international agencies, researchers from diverse disciplines, governments and NGOs to deliver a coordinated response.

“PANChSHEEEL is a great example of how working in partnership we can use research to holistically tackle a range of truly complex issues for the benefit of children right now and for generations to come.”

The study was conducted in the Banswara district in Rajasthan, India, with members of the community participating to co-develop the intervention package to improve infant and young children feeding and care practise. The approach was centred on schools as places of mobilisation, linked with Anganwadi (rural child care centre) workers.

Professor Monica Lakhanpaul, Professor of Integrated Community Child Health at the UCL Great Ormond Institute of Child Health and the study’s principal investigator, said: “Schools are a key part of our intervention as a recognised platform for social change, so we envisage that schools – where communities come together, teachers are respected and children can be change agents even in the homes – can be a forum to enhance existing platforms of community health delivery such as the Anganwadi centres.”

Dr.Rajesh Khanna, Senior Technical Advisor for Health and Nutrition at Save the Children said: “Tackling the problem of undernutrition requires cross-sectoral and context-specific interventions.

“The PANChSHEEEL study has been unique as it has not only collected information on both nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive factors, but also utilised the information effectively for developing the intervention package working together with the community. The emerging design is extremely relevant in the context of POSHAN Mission.”

For further information visit the UCL website.

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