What are the preconditions of a healthy infant:
- During pregnancy, the mother must have access to sufficient quality and quantity food including during pregnancy and lactation
- During pregnancy woman and breastfeeding period, the mother must take iron folic acid supplements daily to reduce maternal anaemia and improve pregnancy and lactation outcomes
- During adolescence, girls must be protected against undernutrition and nutritional deficiencies like anaemia through dietary counseling, weekly iron and folic acid supplementation, twice yearly de-worming prophylaxis
- Regular consumption of salt with adequate levels of iodine is required by all pregnant women in order to prevent foetal brain damage associated with iodine deficiency
- Women must avoid early marriage and pregnancy
What this indicates is that at the core of any nutrition program for the infants is actually a program to improve the health outcomes of the mothers. Of course, woman’s health and well-being has its own inherent qualities and every women has a right to good health whether or not she is a mother. However, the point here is that any program that addresses nutritional needs of the children acknowledging it as the building block of the future must start with the women. This pertains not just to health but also to education as significant disparity in nutritional status can be explained by mothers’ education and literacy. Studies have found a significant association between low maternal literacy and poor nutrition status of young children. A healthy and educated mother who enjoys a good social standing is the best guarantee for a healthy child and indeed of development.