Micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent among Zimbabweans with serious health and social implications. Due to a lack of a national micronutrient food fortification policy, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Care established a policy for the prevention of maternal micronutrient deficiencies, which centres on pregnant women receiving daily iron and folic acid (IFA) at their first antenatal care visit and throughout pregnancy. Despite these efforts, utilization of IFA supplementation in pregnancy in Zimbabwe is low. This study aimed to understand the experiences and knowledge of IFA supplementation among pregnant women and healthcare workers in Harare, Zimbabwe, and the influence of health-service and social environments on utilization. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted in Shona and English, with pregnant women (n = 24) and healthcare workers (n=14) providing direct antenatal care services to pregnant women in two high-density community clinics. Data were analysed thematically using NVivo 10. Influences on utilization were at the individual and structural environmental levels. Reasons for low utilization of IFA supplementation included forgetting to take IFA, side effects, misconceptions about IFA, limited access to nutrition information, delayed entry or non-uptake of antenatal care and social norms of pregnant women for IFA supplementation. Utilization was enhanced by knowledge of risks and benefits of supplementation, fear of negative health complications with non-utilization, family support and healthcare worker recommendation for supplementation. Study findings can inform approaches to strengthen micronutrient supplementation utilization to improve the micronutrient status of pregnant women to decrease maternal mortality and improve overall maternal and child health in Zimbabwe.
Maternal and Child Nutrition
Tinago, C. B., Ingram, L. A., Blake, C. E., & Frongillo, E. A. (2017). Individual and structural environmental influences on utilization of iron and folic acid supplementation among pregnant women in Harare, Zimbabwe. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 13(3) http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12350
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