Micronutrient deficiencies, particularly iron deficiency anemia (IDA) are significant problems in Palestine among pregnant women and children. According to the Ministry of Health, IDA affects more than half of children under five years and at least 30% of pregnant women.The objective of this intervention was to assess the effectiveness of targeted and timely home visits by trained community health workers (CHWs) for increased knowledge and improved practices among mothers around iron supplementation and dietary modification.
An intervention study was carried out by World Vision targeting 100 communities in West Bank. Pregnant women and mothers (n=2900) of infants during the year 2013 – 2014 were identified. The CHWs targeted the mothers with key messages and support for positive behaviour change during home-visits over 14 months. Baseline and end-line data were collected through household interviews.
Dietary modifications and supplement intake by both the mothers and the children significantly improved after the intervention; intake of iron supplements during pregnancy increased from 59% to 77.3%; consumption of iron-rich food during pregnancy increased from 14.5% to 20.6%. Iron supplementation for 6-12 month olds increased from 56.2% to 76.5%, diet diversity increased from 32.2% to 72.2%.Increased dietary diversity and iron supplementation decreased anaemia by 25.2% among the targeted children and by 33.3% among their mothers.
Home based interventions by trained CHWs have positively influenced practices related to intake of supplements and dietary diversity in West Bank. This approach is now being scaled up to more villages and to Gaza.