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|Title:||Health workers' and villagers' perceptions of young child health, growth monitoring, and the role of the health system in remote Thailand|
|Citation:||Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 2018; 39(4):536-548|
|Anna Roesler, Lisa G. Smithers, Pattanee Winichagoon, Prasit Wangpakapattanawong and Vivienne Moore|
|Abstract:||Background: In Thailand, despite widespread improvements in child nutrition, stunting is still highly prevalent among northern hill tribe children. Objective: To understand how villagers and health workers (volunteers and officials) gauge health of children younger than 5 years, whether growth monitoring is salient, and the relationships of villagers with the health system in this remote location. Methods: Qualitative research was undertaken with 8 hill tribe villages. A workshop on infant and young child health and nutrition was held with 8 village health volunteers, 2 per village, selected by a public health officer. In-depth interviews were conducted with 20 villagers and 2 volunteers who had children 0 to 5 years. Eight other health workers were also interviewed. All dialogue was conducted in Thai through bilingual facilitators and recorded, transcribed, and translated into English. Transcripts were coded and analyzed thematically within and across participant groups. Results: Overall, villagers considered strength and independence of children to be hallmarks of health; the size of children featured rarely. Volunteers did not perceive local benefits of growth monitoring, and the extent of child malnutrition was unclear to them. Nutrition counseling was seldom mentioned by villagers or health workers. Across all accounts, and considering silences, relationships of villagers with the health system seemed fragile. Conclusion: Villagers understand child health in terms of functional abilities rather than size. Volunteer health workers in this remote location have limited resources and support. Together this helps explain why, against a background of poverty and food insecurity, growth monitoring does not translate to improvements in child nutrition.|
|Keywords:||Stunting; child health; growth monitoring; community health worker; village health volunteer; ethnic communities; Thailand|
|Rights:||© The Author(s) 2018. Article reuse guidelines: sagepub.com/journals-permissions|
|Appears in Collections:||Public Health publications|
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