Strengthening Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition Training and Counseling in Ghana: A Community-Based Approach

Elsevier, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 6, Issue 9, September 2022, nzac127
Adam Sandow, Madelynn Tice, Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Richmond Aryeetey, Amber J Hromi-Fiedler


Evidence-based maternal, infant, and young child nutrition (MIYCN) counseling provides caregivers essential nutrition education to optimize infant and young child feeding practices and subsequently improve child growth and development. Effective integration of responsive feeding (RF) into current MIYCN training requires working with priority communities.


Study objectives were to 1) assess MIYCN knowledge and practices among Ghanaian caregivers, 2) identify factors influencing RF/responsive parenting (RP) among Ghanaian caregivers, 3) identify barriers and facilitators influencing MIYCN training and counseling among Ghanaian health care providers, and 4) document recommendations for integrating an RF curriculum into the existing MIYCN training.


This was a qualitative study, conducted within the Central Region of Ghana, based on 1) 6 focus groups with caregivers of young children (<36 mo; n = 44) and 2) in-depth interviews with health care providers (n = 14). Focus group transcripts were coded independently, consensus was reached, and a final codebook developed. The same coding process and thematic analysis were applied to the in-depth interviews.


Caregivers identified 3 domains influencing the primary outcome of RF/RP knowledge and practices and the secondary outcome of MIYCN: 1) health care provider counseling; 2) support from family, friends, and community members; and 3) food safety knowledge and practice. Providers identified barriers to MIYCN provider training as well as caregiver counseling which included limited access to financial and counseling resources and limited qualified staff to deliver infant and young child feeding counseling. Identified facilitators included availability of funding and counseling staff with adequate resources. Health care providers strongly endorsed integrating an RF curriculum into MIYCN training and counseling along with providing RF training and distribution of RF materials/tools to facilities.


Health care providers directly influenced RF/RP practices through MIYCN counseling. Strengthening MIYCN counseling through the integration of an RF curriculum into MIYCN training is desired by the community.