Nutritional knowledge and practices of mothers with malnourished children in a regional hospital in Northeast Namibia
Accepted: 13 March 2023
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Background. An estimated 159 million children under five are affected by malnutrition, with an additional 101 million children under five being underweight in sub-Saharan Africa. In Namibia, 24% of children under age 5 are stunted and 8% are severely stunted. The Kavango region has the highest rate of stunting (38.8%) in the country. Objective. The purpose of the study was to determine and describe the nutritional knowledge and practices of mothers with malnourished children regarding feeding at Rundu Intermediate Hospital, Kavango East Region, Namibia. Materials and Methods. A quantitative cross-sectional research design was used. A convenience sampling technique was used to select 199 mothers with malnourished children who were admitted to the pediatric ward. Data were collected via self-administered questionnaires with closed-ended questions. Results. 51.8% of the mothers had correct nutritional knowledge regarding breastfeeding for six months before giving other food, and 74.4% believed that newborns should be initiated to breastfeeding within an hour after birth, while the same number breastfed their babies on demand. Furthermore, 35.6% of the participants followed appropriate practices regarding feeding. Conclusions. Most mothers (51.8%) had appropriate nutritional knowledge. However, only a minority (35.6%) of the mothers had the appropriate practices regarding feeding their children. Hence, there was a knowledge/practice mismatch regarding the significance of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months, and generally the vitality of breast milk to the child. These findings may be used to develop strategies and target interventions to create awareness among mothers regarding effective breastfeeding practices.
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