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Versus anaemia: Empowering women to fight anaemia

Could we identify culturally relevant solutions to drive behaviour change?

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Background

Iron deficiency anaemia poses a significant health challenge, particularly for women and children in India. With 52% of pregnant women and 67% of children suffering from anaemia, addressing this issue is crucial to prevent adverse health outcomes. Our research focused on understanding dietary perceptions and challenges faced by women in a specific district in Maharashtra, India, during pregnancy.

Problem

We conducted interviews with women working in a public school and mothers of children in the school. Our research uncovered several key challenges:

  • Misconceptions about pregnancy diets, leading to inadequate nutrition intake.
    “If I eat too much, it might put pressure on the baby.”

  • Resistance to dietary and lifestyle changes necessary for combating anaemia during pregnancy.

  • Low adherence to free iron supplements due to forgetfulness and perceived insignificance.

Theory of change

Applying the EAST framework for behaviour change:

  • Make it social: Promoting iron-rich diets as a communal activity to foster engagement and acceptance.

  • Make it easy and timely: Facilitating simple lifestyle changes and providing timely reminders to stimulate behaviour change.

 

 

Solution 

Community driven knowledge sharing

Every household has different recipes incorporating iron-rich foods using local ingredients and cooking techniques. Organising village-level sessions where women demonstrate iron-rich home-style recipes using local ingredients. These sessions, facilitated by Frontline Health Workers during Village Health Days, promote knowledge sharing in a social and enjoyable setting.

 

The kit

A set of practical solutions integrated into daily life to promote anaemia prevention practices. The interventions offer timely nudges to encourage behaviour change and adoption of healthy practices.

Impact

We tested the kit with women we engaged with during the research process, from nearby villages. Initial feedback from them was positive, indicating usefulness and acceptance among the user group.

Potential testing and evaluation plan

  • Collaborate with Public Health Services to pilot the kit, ensuring compliance with health standards.

  • Working alongside Frontline Health Officers that come in to provide health services, identify two small cohorts of pregnant women from two separate villages with similar demographics - the treatment and control group.

  • Conduct a baseline survey with both cohorts. Survey would include questions on lifestyle, eating habits and basic health information. 

  • Distribute the kits to the treatment group.

  • After 3 months, conduct the same survey with both cohorts.

  • Comparing data collected from the new surveys done with both cohorts, measure the impact of the treatment against the control. Also measure the impact of the interventions by comparing the new survey with the baseline survey (pre-post evaluation).​​

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