International Journal of Health Sciences and Research

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Review Article

Year: 2017 | Month: October | Volume: 7 | Issue: 10 | Pages: 240-251

Knowledge and Counselling Skills of Community Health Workers for Promotion of Optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Practices: A Review

Sahiba Kohli1, Ravinder Chadha2

1PhD Scholar, Department of Food and Nutrition, Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi
2Associate Professor, Department of Food and Nutrition, Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi

Corresponding Author: Sahiba Kohli


Community health workers (CHWs) are well-established as change agents for promoting health behaviour change among community members. However, their knowledge and counselling skills play an important role in effective promotion of optimal infant and young child feeding practices (IYCF). The present review reports IYCF knowledge and counselling skills of CHWs and existing gaps in promotion of optimal IYCF practices by them. Knowledge of majority (≥80%) of CHWs was reported to be correct about timing for early initiation of breastfeeding, avoidance of pre-lacteal feeding, exclusive breastfeeding, continued breastfeeding during diarrhoea, fever and breast cancer, optimal duration of continued breastfeeding and age of initiation of complementary feeding. Fewer CHWs (≤50%) correctly knew about timing for early initiation of breastfeeding in case of caesarean section, interval/ frequency of breastfeeding, breastfeeding complications and consistency of complementary feeds. Gaps reported in CHWs’ counselling skills were inability to translate knowledge into messages or observe and interpret existing IYCF practices, failure to provide need-based advice and giving inappropriate advice. Therefore, besides provision of routine refresher trainings and on-job capacity building to improve the knowledge of CHWs’ about IYCF practices it is equally important to make communication and counselling skills central to training and strengthening knowledge-sharing effectiveness of CHWs with focus on bringing about behaviour change rather than simply conveying messages.

Key words: infant and young child feeding practices, breastfeeding, knowledge, skills, community health workers

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