The USAID/Strengthening Uganda’s Systems for Treating AIDS Nationally (SUSTAIN) project has kick-started a mop-up training of healthcare workers for the integration of nutrition across the continuum of HIV care. The training follows a revision in the Ministry of Health national guidelines, additional to the need for aligning service provision to the 2013 World Health Organization requirements for managing malnutrition. So far, 115 participants--including nurses, midwives, clinical officers and nursing assistants drawn from outpatients departments, HIV, antenatal, postnatal and young child clinics, nutrition, tuberculosis and medical wards from six regional referral hospitals--have received the training. Unlike the old curriculum that only provided knowledge on nutrition care for HIV patients, the new curriculum is integrated. It covers maternal nutrition, infant and young child feeding, and nutrition in diseases, especially tuberculosis. The training is also offering knowledge on nutrition education and counseling, management of nutrition commodities and supplies, monitoring and reporting and evaluation as well as the application of quality improvement approaches for better service outcomes. Moreover, the opportunity for training has allowed the chance to fill the knowledge gaps that have arisen due to high staff attrition, since the first training offered by USAID/SUSTAIN in 2012. Staff from six other regional referral hospitals are set to receive the same training by the end of July 2016.
A trainer explains the use of a nutritional chart
The 2011 Uganda Demographic Health Survey shows that Ugandan children 6-59 months old are highly affected by malnutrition with 33% stunted, 5% wasted and 16% underweight, 12% of women 15-49 years are thin. This is attributed to poor infant feeding patterns. With implementing partner support, the Ministry of Health is now advocating for integration of nutrition services in all service units within healthcare facilities and at community level-to address the high level of malnutrition. Health Monitoring Information Systems tools have also been revised to include variables that will allow data driven planning and implementation. A first step is in process, building capacity of healthcare workers to integrate nutrition in routine care.