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October 2021

Int J Health Educ. 1980 Oct-Dec; 23(4): 236-41.

Some major obstacles to the practice of sound nutrition in Nigeria.

Ekeh HE.

The author recently undertook a study in Ibadan to determine some of the factors which negate the successful practice of nutrition and the impact of health education on children's nutritional status. This paper deals with the first aspect; the second will be covered in a following issue. The survey was carried out through questionnaires and interviews with mothers in two child welfare clinics and with the nursing and medical staff working in these health institutions. Findings pinpoint specific problems which call for an educational intervention, namely the gap between the knowledge of mothers regarding the nutritional value of local foods and the supplements they actually use; the traditional ways of cooking which entail the loss of much nutritional value; the fact that the child's food is not prepared separately from that of the adults; the lack of adequate storage facilities and the danger of food contamination; the fact that the head of the family is served first, etc. Health personnel pinpointed improvements in feeding practices, and a decreasing influence of mothers-in-law and fewer superstitions. A major problem, however, remains the promotion undertaken by commercial companies. As a solution, it is proposed that representatives of these companies be trained in health education and that they act as extension to the health staff, their particular role being to help educate mothers on the hygienic preparation of food, and bottle sterilization. The need for policy-makers to support nutrition education through appropriate measures is also highlighted.

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