A study of knowledge, attitude and beliefs of Anganwari workers regarding infant and young child feeding practices
Introduction: Malnutrition permeates all aspects of health, growth, cognition, motor and social development of young children. Anganwari Worker (AWW) is a community based frontline honorary worker of the ICDS Programme. She is an agent of social change and capable of mobilizing community support for promotion of Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices, thereby helping to curb child malnutrition to a large extent. Rationale: The AWW is the key functionary who can appropriately guide the mothers regarding appropriate IYCF practices in the best possible way, provided she herself is well equipped with adequate knowledge. OBJECTIVE: To assess the knowledge, attitude and beliefs of Anganwari workers regarding IYCF practices. Material & Methods: 100 AWWs were assessed for their knowledge, attitude and beliefs regarding IYCF practices. Both pre-test and post-test evaluations were done. Results: About 19% of the AWWs did not know the age up to which the child should be exclusively breastfed and 13% did not know about the age of introduction of complementary feeding. Only 47 % of the AWWs knew about the “feeding on demand” concept. More than 90% of AWWs believed that colostrum should be given to the baby. None of the AWWs knew about the quantitative additional calorie, protein and calcium requirements in lactating mothers. There was significant difference (P<0.001) between mean pre test scores (19.48±1.98) and mean post-test knowledge scores (22.21±0.93) of Anganwari workers. Conclusion: Repetitive practical orientation programmes would help in increasing the knowledge of AWWs and improving their skills for implementation of correct IYCF norms. Efficient, coordinated and well-targeted approaches can bring about positive changes in child under nutrition.