A Village Health Worker led Intervention to Promote And Support Exclusive Breastfeeding in Rural Zimbabwe is Feasible and Acceptable

CR, Matare; MNN, Mbuya; KL, Dickin; MA, Constas; NV, Tavengwa; D, Fundira; TR, Malaba; JH, Humphrey; RJ, Stolzfus
Exclusive breastfeeding (EBF) is a pillar of child survival but in Zimbabwe, less than 6% of infants are exclusively breastfed for 6 mo. Peer counseling has been shown to improve rates of EBF. We pilot-tested a Village Health Worker (VHW)-based EBF education intervention and assessed acceptability, within-household reach, motivators triggered, learning outcomes, and EBF intentions and behavior. The intervention delivered key messages at four times: late gestation, and r indirectly reached other influential household members who shape infant feeding practices. The intervention improved EBF knowledge and led to changes in infant feeding behaviors and intentions, motivated mostly by desire for a healthy baby. Some mislearning around maternal diet determining breastmilk production also occurred. We conclude that targeted messages within home-based education modules delivered by VHWs to promote EBF are promising and should be tested at scale.
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Submitted Feb 2015. In peer review
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The Zvitambo Institute for Maternal and Child Health Research is a multidisciplinary Zimbabwean organization that has developed and attracted expertise in various areas of biomedical and applied research and programming in the areas of maternal health, child health and growth, immunology, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, food security and livelihoods, WASH and counseling

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