The relationship between men’s involvement in child feeding and nutritional status of children aged 6-59 months in Kihihi, Kanungu District
Twinomujuni, Rukambura Edgar
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ABSTRACT Introduction Child under nutrition is one of the major public health challenges in Uganda. Male participation in child care practices has been recommended by various studies however many interventions still focus on children and women neglecting the role of men. Male involvement in child care is important because it can lead to good health outcomes for both mother and child. Objective To determine the relationship between men`s involvement in child feeding and nutritional status of children aged 6-59 months in Kihihi, Kanungu districts so as to enable the district to design interventions to involve men in child care practices. Methods The study was cross-sectional and descriptive involving men aged 18 years and above and children aged 6-59 months and it employed both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. A total of 370 male respondents were interviewed in the study from the sub counties of Kihihi town council and Kihihi Sub County. A male involvement index and a knowledge index were constructed based on 6 questions each. 453 children had their nutritional status assessed using anthropometric measurements. Four focus group interviews and six key informant interviews were also conducted. Results The median age of the respondents was 32 years (inter quartile range, IQR (28-40). The prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition was (3.8%, CI: 2.4-5.9) with under nutrition highest among the males (4.0%, CI 2.2-7.2) than females (3.4%, CI: 1.7-6.9) and 9.1% of the children were over nourished. A large proportion of men (84.3%) reported to be more involved in child feeding activities and 76.5% of the men were more knowledgeable about feeding of children aged 6-59 months. Nutritional status was not associated with male involvement in child feeding activities. Men who made decisions regarding house hold income use alone without spouse were less likely to participate in child feeding activities (OR=0.69, CI=0.32-1.09 Education of the respondent was not associated with male involvement in child feeding. (OR=1.19, CI=0.25-2.03). Age of man, religion, nutritional knowledge and health service factors did not contribute significantly to level of male involvement in child feeding activities. Conclusions Despite the reported high level of male involvement in child feeding related activities, the level of under nutrition is still high in Kihihi, Kanungu district. Household income use still remains an important factor for their participation in child health related activities. Strategies to improve child nutritional care should include encouraging couple communication on income use and nutritional interventions should be carried out with a view of child gender.