Project Lead(s): Susan Dix Lyons
In 2006, neonatal mortality comprised 71% of infant mortality and 50% of child mortality in Nicaragua. Additionally, maternal health issues were the leading cause of hospitalization in 2007.
Maternal health outcomes are worse for the women of low socioeconomic status in rural areas.
Widespread difficulties in accessing health facilities further exacerbate maternal health risks in the region.
The project addressed the social determinants of health for pregnant women and their children in underserved rural areas in the state of Boaco in Nicaragua. The aim of the project was to target mothers early in their pregnancy to build networks of support and improve nutrition knowledge.
To do this, they used interactive lessons to deliver socio-behavioural change curriculum and provided clinical checkups for pregnant women. Topics in the sessions included fetal development and care, breastfeeding, and nutrition for pregnant women and their children.
The project incorporated hands-on training in gardening and cooking for all participants.
The project was implemented at 6 different sites in partnership with the Nicaraguan government and NGOs. Each group participated in 11 weeks of instruction.
6 demonstration gardens were created for training on bio-intensive production, and 58% of women replicated the garden to make it part of their own nutritional practices. The project improved participants’ nutritional knowledge surrounding their own pregnancies and their present and future children.
200 women were recruited into the program, with 86% of participants coming from rural underserved areas. Emphasized recruitment of young, first-time mothers and women at greater obstetric risk. A total of 25 facilitators (8 nurses, 15 leaders, & 2 agronomists) were trained, exceeding the project goal.
As a result, participants were better equipped to identify healthy foods as well as signs of malnutrition in children. It also resulted in more women practiced exclusive breastfeeding.