The provision of micronutrient powders (MNP) to young children holds promise for anemia reduction. However, research has focused more on efficacy than operational issues. In Uganda the Ministry of Health (MOH) is considering national roll out of MNPs but needed contextÂ¬specific implementation evidence for this intervention. At the MOH’s request, the USAIDÂ¬funded SPRING project piloted MNP distribution in Namutumba district to fill this operational knowledge gap.
After three months of distribution, SPRING conducted qualitative research to identify barriers to use and areas of success. Staff conducted key informant interviews and focus group discussions with caretakers of eligible children (regular and low/non-users), and with health workers and village health teams involved in distribution. Participants were chosen to represent varied distribution contexts. SemiÂ¬structured interview and discussion guides highlighted experiences with MNP and areas for program improvement.
The interviews elucidated crucial points where caretakers made decisions about giving (or not) MNP to a child, highlighting opportunities for operational improvement. The research also revealed decision points in the experiences of MNP distributors, describing the supply and demand constraints at each point. Overall, participants reported positive experiences but identified improvements needed to ensure better coverage and adherence rates.
This study provides valuable insights into effective implementation of MNP programs for young children in Uganda and similar contexts. The next steps for programs will be to strengthen the capacity of distributors to reinforce MNP-supportive decisions throughout the distribution process, and use the successes identified to improve existing communication and training materials.