Factors contributing to severe acute malnutrition among the under five children in Francistown-Botswana
Introduction: Malnutrition is the immediate result of inadequate dietary intake, the presence of disease or the interaction between these two factors. It is a complicated problem, an outcome of several etiologies. SAM is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among children under the age of five in developing countries. Although studies in Botswana show some improvement in child malnutrition since the 1980s, severe acute malnutrition still remains a cause for concern in many parts of the country. There is little information on undernourishment situation of children under the age of five years in the urban areas of the country. Aim: The purpose of this study was to determine the risk factors to severe acute malnutrition among children under the age of five years in Francistown, Botswana. The UNICEF conceptual framework was used as a guide in assessing and analysing the causes of the nutrition problem in children and assisted in the identification of appropriate solutions. Methods: The study was conducted on cases who had been admitted and referred at any time between March and July 2015. A quantitative research methodology was used to conduct the study. A case-control study design was utilised. Random selection of cases and controls was done on a ratio of 1:2 case per control. Cases included children under the age of five years admitted to Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital and those referred to the Nutritional Rehabilitation Centre within the hospital in Francistown-Botswana with a diagnosis of severe acute malnutrition. Controls were children of the same age, gender and attending the same Child welfare clinic as the case and with good nutritional status. Data was collected through face-to-face standardised interviews with care-givers. Results: Data collection was done using a combination of a review of records (child welfare clinic registers, and child welfare clinic cards) and structured questionnaires. 52 cases and 104 controls were selected with the primary or secondary care-giver as the respondent. (N=156). Data was collected using a self-developed structured questionnaire and the review of documents. Of all the cases 36.5% (n=19) were diagnosed with MAM, 46.2% (n=24) with SAM, 1.9% (n=1) with moderate PEM and 7.7% (n=4) each for PEM and Severe PEM. All the cases had presented with clinical signs and symptoms of severe acute malnutrition and/or the weight-for-height Z-score of ≤ -3 SD. Following placement of the data in regression models, the factors that were found to be significantly associated with child malnutrition were low birth weight (AOR = 0.437; 95% CI = 0.155-1.231) , exclusive breastfeeding (AOR = 2.741; 95% CI = 0.955-7.866), child illness (AOR = 0.383; 95% CI = 0.137-1.075), growth chart status (AOR =7.680; 95% CI = 1.631-36.157), level of care-giver’s education (AOR = 0.953; 95% CI = 0.277-3.280), breadwinner's work status (AOR = 1.579; 95% CI = 0.293-8.511), mother’s HIV status (AOR = 0.777; 95% CI = 0.279-2.165), alcohol consumption (AOR = 0.127; 95% CI = 0.044-0.369), household having more than one child under the age of five (AOR = 0.244; 95% CI = 0.087-0.682), household food availability (AOR = 0.823; 95% CI = 0.058-11.712), living in a brick type of house (AOR = 13.649; 95% CI = 3.736-49.858), owning a tap (AOR = 1.269; 95% CI = 0.277-5.809) and refuse removed by the relevant authority (AOR= 2.095; 95% CI = 0.353-12.445) were all statistically significantly associated with severe acute malnutrition (p < 0.05). Therefore, all these variables were included in the binary stepwise regression where living in a mud house type was the most significant factor and not being breastfed for at least three months was the least significant. Conclusion: The findings of this study suggested that immediate determinants to SAM were; child born with a low birth weight, appetite and child illness. Underlying contributing factors were; the child not exclusively breastfed for at least three months, growth chart not up to date, care-givers education level, employment status, alcohol consumption, household food availability, type of housing, owning a tap and number of children under the age of five year. Therefore, increasing household food security and strengthening educational interventions for women could contribute to a reduction in the prevalence of SAM in Francistown, Botswana.