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Matern Child Nutr. 2011 Apr;7 Suppl 1:157-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8709.2011.00317.x.

Situational analysis of infant and young child nutrition policies and programmatic activities in Senegal.

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  • 1Helen Keller International, Dakar, Senegal.


Progress towards reducing mortality and malnutrition among children <5 years of age has been less than needed to achieve related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Therefore, several international agencies joined to 'Reposition children's right to adequate nutrition in the Sahel', starting with an analysis of current activities related to infant and young child nutrition (IYCN). The main objectives of the situational analysis are to compile, analyse and interpret available information on infant and child feeding and the nutrition situation of children <2 years of age in Senegal, as one of the six targeted countries. These findings will be used to assist in identifying inconsistencies and filling gaps in current programming. Between August and December 2008, key informants responsible for conducting IYCN-related activities in Senegal were interviewed, and 157 documents were examined on the following themes: optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, prevention of micronutrient deficiencies, prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, management of acute malnutrition, food security and hygienic practices. Nearly all of the key IYCN topics were addressed, specifically or generally, in national policy documents. Senegal reported substantial improvements since the 1990s towards reducing infant and young child mortality and underweight, and increasing exclusive breastfeeding among infants <6 months of age (34%). Senegal is one of the few countries in the region that is nearly on track for reaching related MDGs. Notable activities that may have played a role include: (1) vitamin A supplementation was expanded to nearly semi-annual national campaigns starting in 1994; (2) the Ministry of Health partnered with several national and international agencies to scale up child survival activities under the umbrella of the Basic Support for Institutionalizing Child Survival (1994-2006); (3) a national nutrition division was developed to support a national nutrition strengthening programme; (4) the national nutrition counsel was organized to coordinate nutritional activities across various organizations and governmental sectors, involving representatives from health, agriculture and surveillance; and (5) an integrated communications programme was developed to support harmonized behaviour change communication tools for the health and nutrition sectors. Along with these activities, a number of programme evaluations were conducted to ensure that programmes obtain desired results. Although useful, these evaluations were not rigorous enough to identify effective programmes that contributed to the mentioned reductions in the prevalence of underweight and mortality, and increases in exclusive breastfeeding. The policy and programme framework is well established for support of optimal IYCN practices in Senegal. Despite the recent improvements in infant and young child nutritional status indicators, there is still much to do. Greater resources and continued capacity building are needed to: (1) conduct necessary research for adapting training materials and programme protocols to programmatic needs; (2) improve and carry out monitoring and evaluation that identify effective programme components; and (3) apply these findings in developing, expanding and improving effective programmes.

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