Child Care Health Dev. 1984 Mar-Apr; 10(2): 61-6.
Partnership with fathers in combating malnutrition: their views as to causes and treatment of protein energy malnutrition.
Fathers of children suffering from overt protein energy malnutrition (PEM) attending our Nutrition Rehabilitation Clinic in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, were visited at their homes to enquire, by means of interview, about their perceptions of the local names given to PEM, its causes and treatment. From the 56 homes visited, 23 fathers were met and participated in the study. Approximately 44% of the fathers recognized PEM as a cause of childhood disease. About 35% of the respondents attributed the cause of PEM to childhood infection and 26% attributed it to congenital disease transferred from pregnant mothers. One-sixth of the fathers were able to link PEM to lack of good feeding. Hospital-based treatment was advocated by 70% of the fathers, whilst 13% opted for traditional medicine and 17% opted for modern medicine. About 35% of the fathers were of the view that child welfare should be mainly the responsibility of the mother. Ignorance, prolonged absence of fathers from the home and poor sanitation were found to be some of the important aetiological factors of PEM. Strategies for prevention of PEM through active involvement by the fathers, and the vital role of home visits are discussed.