Health professionals knowledge, attitude and practice in the management of protein energy malnutrition in government hospitals, Kisumu district, Kenya
Olwambula, Rose Ambalo
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Malnutrition is a deficiency or excess of essential nutrients that accounts for more than half of all under five-year old deaths not only in developing countries but also in Kenya. The study explored health professionals' knowledge, attitude and practice related to protein energy malnutrition in Kisumu District. The research design was a survey and multi-stage sampling was used. The target population were doctors, nurses' nutritionists and clinical officers because they are the primary health information providers to patients. The sample frame was 113 respondents. Data was collected by use of interview schedule consisting open and closedended items, observation checklists and focus group discussions. Quantitative data collected were analysed using statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). Qualitative data collected was organised, coded and analysed. Chi-square tests were used to test the relationships between the categorical variables at a significant level of 0.05. Findings revealed that health professionals' level of knowledge concerning protein energy malnutrition was moderate with a mean of 16.1 (53.7%) out of 30 scores. The attitude towards protein energy malnutrition and its management was positive for most 95 (84.1%) respondents. Assessment of the role of nutrition education, child growth monitoring and nutritional counselling indicated that there was a gap in these areas, which would be, achieved through integration of nutrition education into existing health programmes if the child's nutritional status has to be improved. Findings in this study may help the policy makers to appreciate the role of nutrition in the management of protein energy malnutrition and this will strengthen the nutrition programme. Healthprofessionals should be supported by the policy makers for them to acquire appropriate management skills and access resources like counselling rooms. Based on the findings, it is recommended that nutrition in-service training be accessible to all health professionals, a broader nutrition programme in hospitals be reinforced, posters depicting the synergistic relationship between food intake, disease and the child's nutritional status be displayed in all health facilities and more nutritionists be recruited in government hospitals.